Ontario reports 18,445 new COVID-19 cases on New Year's Day, a pandemic high

Public Health Ontario warns that the new daily case high of 18,445 reported New Year's Day is "an underestimate."

Public Health Ontario warns that new daily case record is ‘an underestimate’

Public Health Ontario on Saturday reported 18,445 new COVID-19 cases and 12 new deaths linked to the virus in the province. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Public Health Ontario on Saturday reported 18,445 new COVID-19 cases in the province.

The agency also reported 12 new deaths, bringing the provincial death toll to 10,206.

More comprehensive figures will be available on Tuesday, following the holiday. The figures released Saturday are from Friday.

The latest case count sets yet another daily high since the pandemic started — up from 16,713 reported on New Year's Eve. However, Public Health Ontario warns that number is also likely "an underestimate of the true number of individuals with COVID-19."

The agency says that's because of testing eligibility changes made in an effort to adjust to the fast-moving Omicron variant.

'Rapid and concerning growth' of hospitalizations

Dr. Kevin Smith, president and CEO of the University Health Network in Toronto, tweeted on Saturday about "the rapid and concerning growth" of hospitalizations in the province. 

Smith asked Health Canada how he could help to get Paxlovid, Pfizer's antiviral COVID-19 pills, "immediately" approved "for emergency use."

"We need this powerful tool in our arsenal yesterday," he tweeted.

You can read more about the province's new testing rules here.

With files from The Canadian Press