Ontario logs 355 new COVID-19 cases on Saturday

Ontario reported 355 new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday, up from 345 new cases on Friday. The province is reporting an additional 13 deaths.

More than 12.3 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have now been administered

Ontario is reporting 355 new COVID-19 cases, according to Health Minister Christine Elliott — one of the few ministers to retain their cabinet positions in Friday's shuffle. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press)

Ontario reported 355 new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday, up from 345 new cases on Friday. The province is reporting an additional 13 deaths.

The new case count includes 58 cases in Toronto, 54 cases in Waterloo region, 45 cases in Peel region, 23 cases in Hamilton, and 22 in the Porcupine Health Unit region, according to Health Minister Christine Elliott — one of the few ministers to retain their cabinet positions in Friday's shuffle.

The seven-day average of new daily cases, a measure that smoothes peaks and valleys in data, currently sits at 390, continuing its recent steady decline.

Ontario pushes forward with reopening plan

The province is continuing forward with its reopening plans. In Toronto, animal lovers got the green light on Saturday to visit Riverdale Farm and the High Park Zoo. While reservations are not required, both facilities have reduced visitor capacity to 15 per cent.

The city of Toronto is also opening 46 outdoor swimming pools early this Saturday, bringing the total of outdoor pools already open to the public up to 56.

A list of open pools is available on the city's website. People who wish to participate in leisure or lane swims need to reserve 45-minute slots through the city's website. 

The entire province is set to enter Step 2 of the government's reopening plan on July 2. However, Premier Doug Ford suggested this week the next phase of reopening could come sooner, depending on consultations with his scientific advisors and cabinet.

More than 20 per cent of Ontario adults fully vaccinated

As of 8 p.m. on Friday, 12,366,899 doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered across the province.

Ontario delivered 213,236 doses on Friday — the most-ever on a single day and the third straight day of new records.

More than 20 per cent of Ontarians aged 18 and older have now been fully vaccinated — one of the primary criteria laid out by the province for advancing into the next phase of reopening.

However, not everyone who received a first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine is booking a second dose of that brand. Instead, pharmacists say more Ontarians are cancelling their appointments, following guidance from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) that they make Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna mRNA vaccines their second dose.

NACI said there's evidence of a stronger immune response with a mix of doses and a lower risk of rare but serious blood clots. The mix might also make travel plans a little less murky. 

Travel uncertainty for those vaccinated by AstraZeneca emerged this week after news spread that the admission requirements for Springsteen on Broadway in New York City include "an FDA-approved vaccine" — Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson.

The province stopped administering first doses of AstraZeneca in May due to the risks of rare but potentially very serious blood clots.

However, Ontarians who received AstraZeneca for their initial shot can currently opt, with informed consent, for a second of the same vaccine despite NACI's recommendation

Delta variant spreads to all provinces, at least 1 territory

The COVID-19 delta variant has officially spread to every province and at least one territory, according to Dr. Theresa Tam, the country's chief public health officer.

Nationwide, the number of confirmed delta cases jumped 66 per cent to over 2,000 — nearly double the number of cases confirmed three days ago.

In Ontario, Dr. David Williams, the province's chief medical officer of health, said it poses a considerable risk, especially to those who have not had a dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. He urged residents to have patience and to continue following public health guidelines.

The most recent analysis from Ontario's COVID-19 Science Advisory Table found that delta, which is thought to be more transmissible than previous variants and could increase the risk of serious illness, accounts for about 40 per cent of all new cases of COVID-19.

First identified in India, the variant has already become the dominant strain in the United Kingdom, where its rapid spread is mostly among people who have not been vaccinated against the virus.

However, a new study out of the U.K. indicates the variant may present more like a common cold in the under 40 population its rapidly infecting. The research team behind a U.K. symptom tracking app found the most-reported systems are now a headache, sore throat, and runny nose.

"Curiously, we did notice that people who had been vaccinated and then tested positive for COVID-19 were more likely to report sneezing as a symptom compared with those without a jab," the team wrote, noting anyone who's been vaccinated and starts sneezing frequently should consider getting tested.

Toronto reaches new vaccination milestone

Mayor John Tory says Toronto has reached a new milestone in its attempts to vaccinate residents against COVID-19 and the delta variant. 

More than 75 per cent of adults in Toronto have received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, while more than 25 per cent have received a second dose. That means one in four adults in Toronto is now fully vaccinated.

In a news release on Saturday, the city said 2,911,071 COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered in Toronto as part of what it calls its Team Toronto initiative. 

As of Friday evening, about 808,876 people have booked COVID-19 vaccination appointments at city-run clinics.

"The City is working non-stop with its healthcare partners, pharmacies and Toronto Public Health to administer all available COVID-19 vaccines – including a focus on in-home second doses of vaccines for vulnerable homebound Torontonians," the city said in the release.

On Friday, the city opened 30,000 new vaccination appointments.

With files from Lauren Pelley, Lucas Powers, and The Canadian Press


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