'Alarm bells are ringing louder,' Ontario official warns as COVID-19 cases hit record high
TORONTO -- Ontario is reporting nearly 800 new cases of COVID-19, which marks the highest daily case count since the start of the pandemic.
Health officials reported 797 new infections on Thursday, breaking the previous high of 732 new cases reported on Oct. 2.
The daily number of COVID-19 infections had fluctuated over the last five days, moving back and forth between the 500s and 600s since the previous high.
Four more people have also died due to COVID-19, the province reported, bringing the total number of deaths to 2,992.
The new record-breaking infections bring Ontario’s total number of lab-confirmed cases to 56,742, including 48,308 recoveries.
The province said it completed 48,500 tests over the past 24 hours, which is the highest number of tests processed to date.
According to the province’s epidemiology report, about 57 per cent of new infections are in people under the age of 40.
Another 225 COVID-19 cases were reported in those between the ages of 40 and 59, while 90 were reported in people between the ages of 60 and 79. Twenty-two cases were recorded in people over the age of 80.
There are 206 people being treated for COVID-19 in Ontario hospitals. Of those patients, 47 are in the intensive care unit and 29 are breathing with the assistance of a ventilator.
"Our alarm bells are ringing louder and louder," Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams said on Thursday while addressing the spike in cases.
He also said that a sustained backlog in test processing continues to impact reporting of results, and some of the data received Thursday may have come from tests collected "five to seven days ago."
Where are the new COVID-19 cases?
Most of the new infections continue to be found in Ontario’s four COVID-19 hotspots.
Of the new cases, 265 were in Toronto, 182 in Ottawa, 134 in Peel Region and 78 in York Region.
Six other local public health units have reported more than 10 cases of the disease.
The new infections come as public officials urge residents in the province to celebrate the upcoming Thanksgiving weekend with only the people they live with.
"For this Thanksgiving weekend it's not enough just to limit the size of our gatherings. We need to stick to our immediate households," Ontario Premier Doug Ford said at a news conference on Wednesday.
"As we face the second wave and work to flatten the next curve, each of us needs to be extra vigilant."
COVID-19 testing in Ontario
While the province complete over 48,000 COVID-19 tests in the last 24 hours, there are still more than 58,000 tests being investigated.
Ontario confirmed on Tuesday they have been sending some COVID-19 tests to the United States for processing.
More than 4.2 million COVID-19 tests have been conducted in Ontario since the disease reached the province in late January.
With files from CP24's Chris Fox.