Ontario reports 1,571 new COVID-19 cases as province delivers record number of vaccines

Ontario reported 1,571 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday and 10 more deaths linked to the virus.

Of Wednesday's new cases, 459 were reported in Toronto alone

Across the province, nearly 1.7 million people have been given one shot of vaccine, while just over 300,000 have been fully-vaccinated, according to Ontario's Ministry of Health.  (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Ontario reported 1,571 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday and 10 more deaths linked to the virus.

The new cases come after health units across Ontario administered 72,451 doses of vaccines yesterday — a new record high.

The seven-day average of daily cases now stands at 1,676, marking a ninth straight day of increases and its highest point since February 3.

Health Minister Christine Elliott says of today's new cases, 459 were reported in Toronto, 309 in Peel Region, and 143 in York Region.

Wednesday's data is based on nearly 51,962 tests completed, a jump of almost 20,000 compared to the figure reported a day earlier. Ontario reported a test positivity rate of 3.8 per cent. 

Meanwhile, some 893 Ontarians are currently hospitalized with the virus, an increase of 25 from yesterday. Of those, 333 are in intensive care, and 210 require a ventilator to breathe. 

The province says that 1,531 cases were marked resolved since the last daily update.

More than 400,000 vaccines administered in Toronto

Across the province, nearly 1.7 million people have been given one shot of vaccine, while just over 300,000 have been fully vaccinated, according to Ontario's Ministry of Health. 

Meanwhile, Toronto marked a new milestone on Wednesday, with more than 400,000 COVID-19 vaccines administered in the city. 

And as of Tuesday evening, the city says 48,159 people have booked vaccination appointments at a city-run clinic. 

Labs also confirmed 30 more cases linked to a coronavirus variant first identified in the United Kingdom.

The Ministry of Education also reported an additional 257 school-related cases on Wednesday. Of those, 209 were reported among students, 47 among staff, and one is attributed to an individual who was not identified. 

Details around Ontario's Phase 2 vaccine rollout released

Late Tuesday, Ontario outlined the priority groups who will be part of the next phase of the vaccine rollout, set to begin in April. Here's what you need to know:

Who is eligible? 

Phase 2 will continue to see vaccines offered to groups based on age and risk. 

That includes adults ages 60-79 (who can already book vaccine appointments at pharmacies in some cities), as well as groups recognized to have greater risk due to living in congregate settings, or those with high-risk health conditions. 

The government has advised health units to work with communities to make vaccines accessible in hot spot neighbourhoods.

Once those groups have been vaccinated, the province says it will also begin to vaccinate essential workers who cannot work from home. 

Ontario said it will encourage workplace vaccinations and said employers should consider letting workers use paid time off to get their shots.

Which regions have been identified as hot spots? 

The province says over 20 per cent of community-based deaths in Ontario have occurred in just 10 per cent of areas where COVID-19 rates are highest. 

The following areas are considered to be hot spots, and will therefore receive additional doses in Phase 2: 

  • Durham
  • Halton
  • Hamilton 
  • Niagara
  • Ottawa
  • Peel
  • Simcoe-Muskoka
  • Waterloo
  • Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph 
  • Windsor-Essex
  • York 
  • Toronto 
  • Southwestern 

Who qualifies as people who can't work from home? 

The province says those who can't work from home will be vaccinated in two groups. All workers listed within each of those groups will be eligible for the vaccination at the same time. 

Group one includes workers who fall under the following job categories:

  • Elementary and secondary school staff and bus drivers
  • Workers responding to critical events 
  • Child-care
  • Food manufacturing
  • Agriculture and farm

Group two includes workers who fall under the following job categories:

  • High-risk and critical retail (this includes grocery stores and pharmacies) 
  • Remaining manufacturing 
  • Social workers
  • Courts and justice system
  • Lower-risk retail (this includes wholesalers and general goods retail) 
  • Transportation, warehousing and distribution 
  • Energy, telecom, water and wastewater management
  • Financial services
  • Waste management 
  • Mining, oil and gas 

For more information about who is eligible in Phase 2 of Ontario's COVID-19 vaccine rollout plan, click here

With files from Julia Knope, Lucas Powers and The Canadian Press


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