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Ontario pushes back date for expanding social gatherings after spike in COVID-19 cases
TORONTO -- Ontario's spike in the number of new COVID-19 cases has prompted the province to delay lifting restrictions on social gathering limits.
For the fifth day in a row, Ontario reported more than 400 new cases of COVID-19 in a single day.
Provincial health officials logged 404 new cases of the novel coronavirus and 29 more deaths on Monday, bringing the total number of patients in Ontario to 25,904, including 2,102 deaths and 19,698 recoveries.
After 10 days of daily case counts being below 400 in Ontario, health officials confirmed 427 new patients on May 19. The case count dropped back down to 390 the following day before it climbed to 413, 441, 412 and 460 in the days that followed.
Health Minister Christine Elliott said on Monday the spike in the number of new COVID-19 cases may be a result of people breaking social gathering rules on Mother’s Day weekend.
Elliott said that on Mother's Day weekend people were "seeing families when there should not have been more than five people together."
On May 15, Elliott said Ontarians could expect an upcoming announcement on expanding social gathering rules. At the time, when Ontario was reporting less than 400 new COVID-19 cases each day, Elliott said they were “studying very closely” the idea of lifting some restrictions.
Elliott said Monday that due an uptick in cases that directive from officials has been “pushed back.”
"We had been discussing pools of people that could be together, the social cohorting and so on, but given what's happened with the numbers of people coming down with COVID in the last few days, along with what has happened over this past weekend with large groups of people coming together in Trinity Bellwoods and other parks, Dr. Williams is reluctant to move forward with that right away," Elliott said.
''There is a concern about people creating groups that are too large. So it is something that is coming forward but it has been pushed back a little bit."
In March, the Ontario government made gatherings of more than five people, with the exception of those who live together, illegal. The order still remains in place.
According to Friday’s epidemiologic summary, eight of Ontario’s deceased COVID-19 patients were between the ages of 20 and 39. There have been no deaths recorded in people 19 years of age or younger. Eighty-five of all deceased patients in the province were between the ages of 40 and 59 and 544 people were between the ages of 60 and 79. People 80 years of age or older continue to be the hardest hit age group with 1,465.
There are currently 859 people infected with COVID-19 in Ontario hospitals. Of those patients, 148 of them are being treated in the intensive care unit.
According to the province, there have been 295 outbreaks of the disease at long-term care homes, 123 at retirement homes and 82 at hospitals.
In Ontario, 4,415 health-care workers have become infected with COVID-19.
Quick facts on all COVID-19 patients in Ontario:
- 43 per cent of all patients in the province are male and 56.1 per cent are female – 229 cases did not specify male or female gender
- 40.8 per cent of all patients are 60 years of age or older – 15 cases did not specify their age
- 3.3 per cent of all patients are 19 years of age or younger
- 25.3per cent of all patients are between the ages of 20 and 39
- 30.5 per cent of all patients are between the ages of 40 and 59
- 20.5 per cent of all patients are between the ages of 60 and 79
- 20.3 per cent of all patients are 80 years of age or older
- Public health units in the Greater Toronto Area account for 64.8 per cent of all cases
- 5.8 per cent of all patients had travelled in the 14 days prior to becoming ill
- 50.8 per cent of all patients had close contact with a previously confirmed case or were "outbreak-associated"
- 12.8 per cent of all patients had "sporadic community transmission"
- 20.8 per cent of all patients had exposure information listed as "missing or unknown"
COVID-19 testing in Ontario
Across the province, thus far, 619,539 novel coronavirus tests have been conducted.
The number of daily tests has remained well below the provincial capacity of 20,000.
Ontario conducted 8,170 tests in the last-recorded 24-hour period. That is a drop from the testing numbers recorded for the two days prior, 11,383 on Saturday and 11,028 on Friday.
Premier Doug Ford expressed frustration over this on the weekend and said that his government would be releasing a “detailed testing strategy” this week.
On Monday, the premier echoed this sentiment, saying he wants “as many people tested as possible, asymptomatic or symptomatic.”
“Wouldn’t it be great if we catch a lot of people that don’t show symptoms… that are going around spreading it – no fault of their own, by the way,” he said.
Ford went on to name some of Ontario’s “hotspots” for COVID-19 that the province plans to focus on when it comes to rapid testing.
“We measure it by postal codes and… some areas are lighting up like a Christmas tree. Those are some of the areas we are going to focus on.”
These areas include parts of Etobicoke and Scarborough in Toronto, as well as spots in Peel and Windsor-Essex regions, the premier said.
There are currently 3,883 test samples under investigation in Ontario.