Ontario records more than 1,000 new COVID-19 cases for the first time ever
TORONTO -- Ontario is reporting more than 1,000 new COVID-19 cases for the first time, setting another record for the number of infections in a single day.
Health officials confirmed 1,042 new COVID-19 cases in Ontario on Sunday. It comes after the province saw 978 infections on Saturday.
According to modelling data released by the provincial government in late September, Ontario was forecast to hit 1,000 new cases per day by mid-October.
As usual, the majority of cases were found in Ontario's four COVID-19 hotspots, which are currently in a modified Stage 2. There are 309 new cases in Toronto, 289 in Peel Region, 117 in York Region and 80 in Ottawa.
Ontario also reported seven new COVID-19-related deaths in the province, bringing the total number of fatalities to 3,093.
The total number of lab-confirmed infections in the province is now 70,373, including deaths and recoveries.
There were 736 more cases considered to be resolved by officials on Sunday. The province now has a total of 60,160 recovered patients.
The seven-day rolling average of new cases now stands at 857 compared to 747 a week ago.
The other regions in province reporting more than 10 new COVID-19 cases include Durham Region (52), Eastern Ontario Health Unit (17) Simcoe Muskoka (16), Windsor-Essex (12), Halton (31), Niagara (23) and Waterloo (21).
Durham and Halton are expected to learn on Monday whether they will be forced to revert to a modified Stage 2.
There were 390 new cases in the people between the ages of 20 to 39. In people between the ages of 40 to 59, there were 282 new infections.
The 19 and under age category recorded 193 new cases, while people over the age of 60 saw 177 new cases.
There are currently 278 patients in an Ontario hospital with COVID-19, which is down slightly from Saturday.
Of those patients, 79 are being treated in an intensive care unit, 54 of which are breathing with the assistance of a ventilator.
According to the provincial government, when there are less than 150 COVID-19 patients being treated in intensive care in Ontario hospitals, the province can "maintain non-COVID capacity and all scheduled surgeries."
Once that number rises above 150 it becomes harder to support non-COVID-19 needs, the government said. Once it exceeds 350 people, it becomes "impossible" to handle.
Meanwhile, the province processed more than 38,000 COVID-19 tests in the previous 24-hour period, which makes Sunday's positivity rate nearly 2.7 per cent.
Ontario has processed more than 4.9 million tests for the disease since the beginning of the pandemic.
There are currently 23,601 tests under investigation.
There are also three new COVID-19 outbreaks in Ontario hospitals, five in retirement homes and seven in long-term care homes.
"While I don't really think it's appropriate to react to the day-to-day variation, the trend is still headed in the wrong direction," Dr. Isaac Bogoch, infectious disease specialist and researcher at Toronto General Hospital, said.
Bogoch said that the source of the recent spike was not entirely clear, but he pointed to possible factors including Thanksgiving festivities that took place two weeks ago. The incubation period for COVID-19 is widely believed to be about 14 days.
Tightened public health restrictions went into effect around the same time in provincial infection hot spots such as Ottawa, Toronto and the neighbouring region of Peel around the same time, but Bogoch said such measures don't produce results immediately.
He said the recent rise in case numbers is not surprising, noting the true effectiveness of the latest round of public health measures may be seen in the coming days.
"I think the week ahead will be very telling, to tell us which direction we're headed in and if the province will take further measures to control spread," he said.
With files from The Canadian Press.