Ontario is reporting more than 2,000 new cases of COVID-19 for the first time in nearly two months.
On Thursday, health officials logged 2,380 new cases of the novel coronavirus, as well as 17 more deaths related to the disease.
The last time more than 2,000 infections were logged was at the end of January.
At the same time, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Health said that about 280 of Thursday’s reported cases were “due to a data catch-up process related to the provincial CCM system.”
Not including the data catch-up cases, the province is reporting approximately 2,100 infections.
The seven-day rolling average of daily cases in Ontario is now about 1,794, a significant increase from the 1,427 average reported in the previous week.
With a little more than 60,000 COVID-19 tests processed in the past 24-hour period, the province says the positivity rate stands at about 3.8 per cent.
The total number of lab-confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 now stands at 336,070, including 7,280 deaths and 312,709 recoveries.
More than 1,000 cases reported in Toronto
The majority of Thursday’s cases can be found in the GTHA, with more than 1,000 infections in Toronto itself.
The province reported 1,016 infections in Toronto, 294 in Peel Region, 244 in York Region, 90 in Durham Region, 79 in Hamilton and 55 in Halton Region.
Ottawa is also reporting COVID-19 case counts in the triple digits, with 152 new infections.
The spike in cases comes days five days after the province reopened outdoor patios in grey lockdown regions and increased capacity at indoor dining in red zones.
The Premier’s Office has said that any further changes to Ontario’s lockdown framework will be announced on Friday following a cabinet meeting.
Situation in Ontario ICUs ‘pretty dire’
There are at least 894 people being treated for COVID-19 in Ontario hospitals, the province says. According to the province’s epidemiology report, at least 332 of those patients are in intensive care units (ICU) and 212 are breathing with the assistance of a ventilator.
Dr. Michael Warner, who is the medical director of critical care at Michael Garron Hospital, described the situation in Ontario ICUs as “pretty dire” and warned against further loosening of public health restrictions.
“In the ICUs in Ontario, especially in Toronto … the situation is, is pretty dire,” Warner told Newstalk1010 Thursday morning. “Most ICUs in the Greater Toronto Area are relatively full and just yesterday we were moving patients, nine patients across the province as far away as Kingston. So although you know case numbers may be relatively steady, the ICU numbers are actually increasing.”
The government has previously said that when there are more than 150 people in Ontario ICUS being treated for COVID-19, care not related to the disease can be impacted. When the 300 patient threshold is passed, it becomes nearly impossible.
“Patients are coming, they're getting sick quite quickly. We're having to move patients out of the ICU in the middle of the night to the ward to make space for them. The nurses are very tired,” Warner said.
“It's going to take a long time for the healthcare system to catch up.”
More than 15,000 variants of concern in Ontario
At least 15,657 mutations have been found in lab-confirmed positive COVID-19 tests since Ontario began actively testing for variants of concern.
Of those, 1,563 have undergone genome testing and have been categorized. In total, there are 1,458 cases of the B.1.1.7. variant originally found in the U.K. Sixty-nine of those cases were found in the last 24-hour period.
There are 51 cases of the B.1.351 variant in total and 54 cases of the P.1. variants.
More than 79,000 people received a dose of a COVID-19 vaccine in the last 24-hour period.
In total, more than 1.7 million people have received a shot. There are 304,386 people who have received both doses of a vaccine and are considered immunized.
(NOTE: The numbers used in this story are found in the Ontario Ministry of Health's COVID-19 Daily Epidemiologic Summary. The number of cases for any city or region may differ slightly from what is reported by the province, because local units report figures at different times.)