Ontario has logged more than 2,000 new COVID-19 cases for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic due in part to what the province says was an update to how it extracts and analyzes data.
Health officials recorded a record-breaking 2,275 infections on Tuesday and 20 deaths, marking a large spike from Monday’s 1,940 cases.
The Ontario government has said the jump was impacted by an update in how Public Health Ontario (PHO) extracted and analyzed their data.
“PHO changed their data extraction process and updated their data extraction time to 1:00pm (from 10:30am) for health units using CCM,” a spokesperson for Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott said in a statement.
“This resulted in a one-time increase in case counts given 2.5 extra hours were included, and slight variation in the results for some fields.”
However, the number of COVID-19 tests processed during this time dipped drastically, from more than 57,000 tests on Monday to just over 39,500 on Tuesday. According to the government, this brings the positivity rate in Ontario to about 5.4 per cent.
There are also at least 64 more people hospitalized due to COVID-19, bringing the total number of patients in Ontario hospitals to 921, up from 857 on Monday. Of those patients, the province says at least 249 are being treated in the intensive care unit, with 156 patients breathing with the assistance of a ventilator.
Speaking to reporters on Tuesday afternoon, Elliott said that while the new calculation may have resulted in a single-day increase in cases, the numbers are still "disturbing."
"We do know that in some areas people are still not complying with the public health rules and regulation," she said. "We're really asking people to please, please continue to follow those rules, maintain physical distancing, wear face mask if you are not able to do that, wash your hands frequently, stay at home if you're not feeling well and please just celebrate the holidays with your own household."
Ontario Premier Doug Ford echoed Elliott's statement, and said that a more strict lockdown following the holidays is not off the table.
"The numbers are very concerning," he said. "Really everything's on the table. Our number one priority is to protect the health and safety of the people of Ontario."
The death toll related to the disease continues to climb towards the 4,000 mark. Of the 20 people who were reported deceased on Tuesday, one was a resident of a long-term care home.
The province logged 1,677 cases on Sunday, 1,873 on Saturday, 1,848 on Friday, and 1,983 on Thursday.
Speaking on Monday, Ontario’s top doctor said he would not be surprised if the daily case count surpassed 2,000 COVID-19 cases this week, as the number of infections does not appear to be decreasing.
“With those numbers, the record amount of testing over the weekend and the amount of positivity from the testing that is sort of in the queue coming up, it would not surprise me if we went over 2,000 cases in a day.”
Where are the COVID-19 cases?
The majority of cases continue to be found in the four lockdown regions in Ontario, however adjacent municipalities are also reporting large numbers of COVID-19 cases.
According to the provincial data, there were 711 new infections in Toronto, 586 in Peel Region, 185 in Windsor-Essex and 154 in York Region.
Other regions that reported more than 50 cases of COVID-19 include Durham (92), Simcoe-Muskoka (55), Hamilton (99), Niagara (65), Halton (65), and Waterloo (71).
There are more than 45,000 COVID-19 tests still under investigation.
The total number of lab-confirmed positive COVID-19 cases in Ontario now stands at 144,396, including 3,992 deaths and 123,373 recoveries.