Ontario reports 744 new COVID-19 cases on Saturday
As of 8 p.m. on Friday, province has administered more than 9.8 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines
Ontario reported 744 new COVID-19 cases on Saturday, down from 914 new cases reported on Friday. The province is also reporting 24 additional deaths.
The new cases include 181 in Toronto, 123 in Peel Region, 61 in Hamilton, 51 in Waterloo region, 48 in York region, and 48 in the Porcupine Health Unit region.
Cases are continuing to trend downward, with the seven-day average clocking in Saturday at 844. The last time the average was this low was October 2020.
However, the improving case count doesn't mean the province is out of the woods just yet. Health officials are continuing to monitor closely the "delta" variant of concern first identified in India.
On Friday, Dr. Lawrence Loh, medical officer of health in Peel Region, said he expects the delta variant to become the dominant strain in Peel in a matter of weeks.
That's a concern, he said, given vaccines have only proven themselves to be 33 per cent effective in preventing illness from the variant after a single shot.
There are currently 625 people hospitalized in Ontario with COVID-19, of which 516 are in intensive care units.
As of 8 p.m. on Friday, Ontario has administered 9,834,182 doses of COVID-19 vaccines, according to Health Minister Christine Elliott.
More than 59 per cent of Ontarians have now had at least one shot. The province has also expanded eligibility at drugstores and doctors offices to allow anyone 70 and older to sign up for their second shot.
Starting on Monday, those people, as well as anyone who received a first shot of Pfizer or Moderna on or before April 18th will be able to book through the provincial booking system.
More vaccine supply is expected to arrive in the coming months, and the province says it could further accelerate the immunization schedule.
"It's never a bad direction when we're getting more vaccine," Dr. Lisa Barrett, an infectious diseases physician out of Halifax, told CBC News on Saturday.
However, Barrett said, the delta variant poses a significant threat.
"That's a recipe for more cases unless we're very careful," she said. "If we don't keep cases down, there'll be another [variant], that's when viruses mutate."
Barrett said a cautious, well-planned reopening is going to be key. It's not just about a second dose of vaccine, she said, but also about not reopening when there is high community spread.
"We can't just open up until we have a great plan for surveillance and tracking of variants," she said.
With files from The Canadian Press