Fewer than 2,600 COVID-19 infections logged in Ontario as testing slumps
TORONTO -- Ontario is reporting a single-day drop in new COVID-19 case numbers as testing for the disease slumps.
Health officials logged 2,578 infections of the novel coronavirus Monday after recording more than 2,900 cases daily for most of the month of January.
Monday’s report marks the lowest number of new cases in Ontario since Jan. 1 when 2,476 were logged. With only 40,301 COVID-19 tests processed in the previous day, the province’s positivity rate has climbed to 6.6 per cent.
The last time test numbers fell below the 40,000 mark was on Jan. 5 when just over 35,000 swabs were processed.
“The number of tests processed yesterday, 40,301, was at its lowest since Jan. 5, which may partially explain the lower numbers we’ve seen today," Ontario's Associate Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Barbara Yaffe explained at a news conference Monday afternoon.
Meanwhile, 24 deaths related to the disease were documented across the province in the last 24-hour period and 2,826 other cases are now considered to be resolved by the Ministry of Health.
Ontario’s COVID-19 case total now stands at 240,364, including 5,433 deaths and 206,310 recoveries.
There are currently 28,621 active cases of the virus in Ontario.
The news comes as Ontario's first major COVID-19 vaccination site opens in downtown Toronto.
Premier Doug Ford and Mayor John Tory toured the site at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre on Sunday, where nurses aim to administer at least 250 shots per day.
The province says the site will run for at least six weeks and will inform how to host vaccination efforts in larger settings across the province in the weeks and months ahead.
Health officials have said that the province plans to move into the second phase of its vaccination rollout by mid-April despite a “temporary” delay in Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine shipments to Canada over the next few months due to the pharmaceutical company’s expansion at its European manufacturing facility.
Ontario began administering its first doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine at the end of December, focusing on four target groups of people: residents, essential caregivers and staff of congregate setting for seniors, health-care workers, adults in First Nations, Métis, and Inuit populations, and adult recipients of chronic home health care.
In a tweet published Monday morning, Health Minister Christine Elliott said that 209,788 doses of the vaccine have been administered so far.
Where are the new COVID-19 cases?
Most of the cases logged Monday were found in just a handful of public health regions across the province.
Toronto leads the pack with 815 infections logged, followed by Peel Region with 507 cases and York and Niagara regions with 151 cases each.
The only other region to report case numbers in the triple digits was the city of Hamilton with 121 infections recorded.
At least six other regions reported new case numbers in the high double digits Monday.
There are currently 1,571 patients in hospital with COVID-19. Of those, 394 patients are being treated in an intensive care unit (ICU) and 303 are breathing with the assistance of a ventilator.
ICU capacity has been a major concern in the second wave of the pandemic as admissions in the province reach new heights.
Earlier this month, Ontario Health told hospitals to be ready to accept COVID-19 patients from hardest-hit regions to relieve the strain on the province’s health-care network.
Health officials have long said that when there are more than 300 patients in the ICU province wide, non-COVID-19-related care becomes almost impossible to facilitate.