'Let's be very careful': Ontario's top doctor confirms province is in third wave of COVID-19 pandemic
TORONTO -- Ontario’s top doctor confirmed Thursday in the clearest terms yet that the province is in fact in the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams made the comment while describing the increase in reported cases in recent weeks.
“We are in the third wave, it's just a matter of what kind of wave will it be,” Williams said.
His comments come after three straight days of rising COVID-19 case numbers in Ontario. The province logged 1,074 new infections on Tuesday, 1,508 on Wednesday, and 1,553 today.
The seven-day average for number of COVID-19 cases reported in the province now stands at 1,427.
A week ago, that number was 1,252 and two weeks before today that number was 1,064.
The Ontario Hospital Association (OHA) first made the declaration of a third wave on Monday. Williams reacted to the news at the time by saying that the province was “into that base of a third wave,” but stopped short of making an official declaration.
A day later, Ontario’s COVID-19 Science Advisory Table aligned with the OHA and said that parts of the province are experiencing “exponential growth” in the number of new COVID-19 infections.
Premier Doug Ford, in response, advised residents to be “very cautious,” but made no mention of further restrictions that may come as a result of the documented increase.
As was predicted by the modellers last month, the rise in infections is being largely driven by the COVID-19 variants of concern, of which Williams said the average of reported cases is “significantly up.”
He said the seven-day average for confirmed variants of concern stands at 41.4 per cent, compared to a week ago when that number was 32.6 per cent.
As well, he said that the reproduction number, or number of people infected by another COVID-19 positive person, for the variants is also troubling.
“The latest effective reproduction number for the variants of concern is 1.35 as that’s compared to our none variants of concern rate which is at 0.9,” he said. “So as you can see, one is waning the other is escalating.”
Speaking to CTV News Toronto on Wednesday, a member of Ontario’s scientific advisory table claimed that a three-week lockdown in parts of the province would be necessary to blunt the explosive growth of the variants of concern in those areas.
Dr. Peter Juni, the scientific director of the advisory table, said he believes that Ontario could see between 2,500 to 5,000 new cases of COVID-19 per day in a few weeks, if the current trends continue.