Ontario pushing flu shots as it reports most new COVID-19 cases since May 2

Ontario reported an additional 478 cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, the most on any single day since May 2 — which came shortly after community spread of the novel coronavirus is considered to have peaked in the province.

As has been the case in recent weeks, a majority of the new cases were concentrated in three public health units:

  • Toronto: 153
  • Peel Region: 95
  • Ottawa: 90

Several other areas of southern Ontario also recorded double-digit new daily cases:

  • York Region: 27
  • Waterloo Region: 27
  • Durham Region: 16
  • Hamilton: 12
  • Halton: 12
  • Middlesex-London: 12

Provincial officials were expected to detail Ontario’s fall COVID-19 plan Tuesday, but instead, Premier Doug Ford and Health Minister Christine Elliott said they would be laying it out in stages in the coming days.

The first part of the plan, Ford said at his daily press conference, is pushing people to get their flu shots this fall. Officials say it will be the largest flu immunization campaign in Ontario’s history.

“Please make sure you get yours, it’s never been more important,” Ford said.

The province says it is investing almost $70 million to purchase flu vaccines for an expanded campaign this year. Elliott said that last year, 280 people in Ontario died from the flu.

Ontario is ordering 5.1 million flu vaccines this fall, officials say, which is 700,000 more than was used last year. That includes 1.3 million high-dose vaccines for seniors, according to a news release.

High-dose flu vaccines will also be available for seniors to participating pharmacies, Ford said.

“The premier and I are both very concerned about the rapid increase in numbers,” Elliott said, while also adding that the province is prepared for a resurgence of COVID-19. She also pleaded with people to continue to observe public health measures.

Elliott said in a series of tweets that about 68 per cent of the newly confirmed cases in today’s report are people under 40. Some 67 per cent of yesterday’s 425 cases were also in Ontarians under 40. 

Elliott did not offer any information about the possibility of new restrictions being imposed for the province.

“We are looking very carefully at several different scenarios … we will take whatever steps need to be taken,” she said.

The additional infections of the novel coronavirus come as Ontario’s network of labs processed 34,201 tests yesterday. Another 39,788 are in the queue waiting to be completed. The positivity rate of tests has been slowly but steadily increasing since mid-August, when it was about 0.31 per cent. It is currently about 1.5 per cent.

Elliott said Monday that the province intends to increase testing capacity to up to 50,000 daily as part of its fall COVID-19 plan. The initial details of the strategy are expected to be made public later today.

Premier Doug Ford Ford has been under pressure to release the updated plan as opposition politicians say it should have come weeks earlier.

Ontario has now seen a total of 47,752 confirmed cases of COVID-19 since the outbreak began in late January. Of those, about 86.6 per cent are considered resolved. Another 196 were marked resolved in today’s update. 

There are currently about 3,578 confirmed, active infections provincewide, the most since June 9.

The five-day rolling average of new daily cases, a measure that smooths peaks and valleys in the data, has been consistently trending upward since mid-August, with growth rates increasing considerably in the last 10 or so days.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health said 51 of the new cases in today’s update are school related: 26 students, seven staff and 18 “individuals not identified.”

The number of patients in Ontario hospitals with confirmed cases of COVID-19 sits at 82. Of those, 24 are being treated in intensive care and 11 are on ventilators. 

The province’s official COVID-19 death toll grew by three, up to 2,832. A CBC News count based on information provided directly from public health units puts the real toll at 2,869.

All of the figures in this story can be found in the provincial ministry of health’s daily update, which includes data from up until 4 p.m. the previous day. The number of cases for any particular region on a given day may differ from what is reported by the local public health unit.

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