Ontario reports 1,062 new COVID-19 cases and 20 deaths as province surpasses 300,000 infections
Province to activate 'emergency brake' in Simcoe-Muskoka and Thunder Bay on Monday
Ontario reported 1,062 new cases of COVID-19 and 20 new deaths linked to the virus on Sunday.
The new infections push the province's cumulative number of cases since the start of the pandemic past the 300,000 mark.
Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott said the new cases include 259 in Toronto, 201 in Peel and 86 in York.
Sunday's numbers marks the fifth straight day that daily case counts have topped 1,000.
The new fatalities bring the total number of COVID-19-related deaths to 6,980.
Meanwhile, the number of people in Ontario hospitals with confirmed cases of COVID-19 is now 627. Of those, 289 are being treated in intensive care and 185 require the use of ventilators to breathe.
Of the total provincial case count, 283,344 cases have been marked as resolved, an increase by 1,029 since Saturday.
Ontario's lab network completed nearly 49,200 tests for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, according to Elliott. The test positivity rate for the province is now 2.4 per cent.
Cases of variants of concern on the rise
Meanwhile, the ministry of health reported more cases of variants of concern across the province, bringing the provincial total to 558.
Twenty new cases of the variant first detected in the United Kingdom were reported, with a total of 528 across the province. Twenty-seven cases of the variant first detected in South Africa have been reported, up two cases since Saturday.
Three total cases have screened positive for the variant first identified in Brazil, up one from Saturday.
Last week, the province's projections showed that variants of concern will likely make up 40 per cent of Ontario's COVID-19 cases by mid-March as they continue to spread quickly.
On Friday, the Eastern Ontario Health Unit confirmed its first cases of variants of concern in the region, something Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, the region's medical officer of health, said is not surprising.
Watch | Medical officer of health for Eastern Ontario Health Unit calls variants in region "not surprising"
9 regions to move to new levels of framework at 12:01 a.m.
Meanwhile, nine regions across the province are gearing up to shift into different levels of Ontario's colour-coded framework. The changes will come into effect at 12:01 a.m. on Monday.
On Friday, the province announced that it is activating an "emergency brake" in Thunder Bay and Simcoe-Muskoka, which will send the regions back into lockdown following a rise in COVID-19 cases.
Seven other regions will also be moving into new levels at the same time. They include:
- Red-control: Niagara Region Public Health.
- Orange-restrict: Chatham-Kent Public Health; Middlesex-London Health Unit; and Southwestern Public Health.
- Yellow-protect: Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit; and Huron Perth Public Health.
- Green-prevent: Grey Bruce Health Unit.
Ontario is moving 9 <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/PublicHealth?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#PublicHealth</a> regions to new levels in the <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/COVID19?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#COVID19</a> Response Framework. This includes activating an “emergency brake” in <a href="https://twitter.com/TBDHealthUnit?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@TBDHealthUnit</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/SMDhealthunit?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@SMDhealthunit</a> to move the regions to Grey-Lockdown to immediately contain community spread. <a href="https://t.co/6gQcvI422C">https://t.co/6gQcvI422C</a> <a href="https://t.co/mKluHH4Xw1">pic.twitter.com/mKluHH4Xw1</a>—@celliottability
The Ontario government lifted a stay-at-home order for many regions in the province two weeks ago and moved all but three of the health units back to the provincial colour-coded restrictions system.
Toronto, Peel and North Bay Parry Sound remain under the stay-at-home order and are expected to do so until at least Monday, March 8.
Toronto to begin vaccinations in homeless shelters
The city of Toronto says it plans to begin administering vaccines to people experiencing homelessness in Toronto's shelter system this week.
In a news release on Sunday, the city said provincial officials have updated the vaccination framework to include those experiencing homelessness as part of its Phase 1 priority for vaccinations.
Toronto Public Health (TPH) said it is working with its health care partners and shelter services to identify homeless shelters at the highest risk of contracting COVID-19 to begin this vaccination program.
This move is part of several vaccination efforts being undertaken in Toronto ahead of the arrival of larger amounts of COVID-19 vaccines, the city said.
With files from Sabrina Jonas