Not true that Ontario plans to implement vaccine certificates, province says
Province reports 660 new COVID-19 cases, bulk of hospitalizations in people not fully vaccinated
The Ontario government reiterated Wednesday that it does not plan to implement vaccine passports, while residents in neighbouring Quebec can now begin downloading that province's vaccine certificate app.
A spokesperson for the Minister of Health told CBC News it's not true that Ontario is moving toward a system similar to Quebec's, following comments by the Eastern Ontario Health Unit's medical officer of health Dr. Paul Roumeliotis to CBC-Radio Canada that seemed to suggest otherwise.
Roumeliotis clarified on Wednesday that he believes "it is inevitable that the province will issue some form of official standardized proof of vaccination" such as a certificate, which can be used by various businesses and establishments that have their own vaccine mandates.
"Do I prefer to go in the direction of Quebec and BC? Yes. But for now, given the growing tide of organizations, businesses and agencies that are mandating vaccines, I believe that we will inevitably have a uniform standardized proof of vaccination," he told CBC News.
So far, Ontario has resisted an approach with Premier Doug Ford previously saying he doesn't want a "split society."
The province has also said Ontarians have the option of printing out their electronic vaccination receipt if needed, though critics have pointed out printouts can easily be forged.
On Wednesday, Peel Region's Medical Officer of Health also threw his support behind a vaccine certificate program, saying he was exploring local options if the province didn't step up with one.
Province reports 660 new cases of COVID-19
Meanwhile, Ontario recorded 660 new cases of COVID-19 Wednesday, with the head of the Ontario Hospital Association reporting that the vast majority of people in hospital right now are not fully vaccinated against the virus.
Of today's new cases, 398 were found in unvaccinated people and 74 were partially vaccinated. A further 53 people did not have a known vaccination status, while 135 were fully vaccinated.
Notably, the province's data on the vaccination status of cases does not include breakdowns by age, or indicate how long after a first or second shot of COVID-19 vaccine a person contracted the virus, or whether they were symptomatic at the time of testing.
Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore said Tuesday that unvaccinated people make up a much smaller percentage of people in the province, so some breakthrough infections are possible in the larger vaccinated population.
Moore also said vaccinated people who do end up contracting COVID-19 will generally have less severe symptoms, alongside a significantly lower risk of death or ending up in intensive care.
Today's case count is up from the same time last week, when the province logged 485 infections. A further 572 cases were also marked as resolved. The province is also reporting one more death of a person with the illness.
Meanwhile, Ontario's hospital association is renewing its calls for broader COVID-19 vaccination as hospitalizations and intensive care admissions due to the virus rise.
The number of people in intensive care as a result of COVID-19 has surpassed 150, a level at which the province last year said it would have to start cutting back on surgeries.
On Tuesday, Moore said the province currently has the capacity to care for those in intensive care, but will closely monitor what he considers a "key marker" of the pandemic situation.
In a statement issued today, the head of the Ontario Hospital Association (OHA) says increasing the vaccination rate will help reduce the burden on hospitals and minimize any further disruption to non-COVID services.
OHA head Anthony Dale notes more 90 per cent of COVID-19 patients in intensive care and more than 80 per cent of those hospitalized but not in an ICU are not fully vaccinated with two doses.
He notes uptake of vaccinations has also "slowed significantly" recently even as case counts increase.
Hospitalizations in the province dropped by 12 in Wednesday's reporting, with 283 currently being treated. The number of patients in ICU rose by five to 161, while the number of patients on a ventilator rose by seven, hitting 92.
Here are some other key pandemic indicators and figures from the Ministry of Health's daily provincial update:
Seven-day rolling average of daily cases: 625.
Tests completed in the last 24 hours: 26,406, with 13,055 currently under investigation.
Provincewide test positivity rate: 2.4 per cent.
Active cases: 5,140.
Death toll: 9,472.
Vaccinations: The province administered 40,254 doses of COVID-19 vaccines Monday. About 75.31 per cent of eligible Ontarians have now had two shots.
With files from Adam Carter, Shanifa Nasser and The Canadian Press