Ontario reports 1,092 new COVID-19 cases, record number of vaccines given out

Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams is scheduled to hold a briefing on the COVID-19 situation in the province at 3 p.m. ET. He will be joined by Dr. Adalsteinn Brown, co-chair of Ontario’s COVID-19 science advisory table, who will be presenting updated modelling.

You’ll be able to watch it live in this story.

Ontario reported another 1,092 cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, while public health units administered a record-high number of vaccine doses.

The 40,610 shots given out yesterday are the most on a single day since so far and come as a pilot project to give 194,500 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to some adults through pharmacies and primary care providers begins in earnest this week.

A total of 281,714 people in Ontario have now had both shots of a vaccine, according to the province’s health ministry.

The new cases reported today include 293 in Toronto, 199 in Peel Region, 79 in York Region and 48 in Thunder Bay — the health unit with the highest number of active COVID-19 cases per capita.

An additional 11 cases were also confirmed in Sudbury. This morning, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams said the province would implement its so-called “emergency brake” to move Sudbury to the grey-lockdown zone of the restrictions framework starting at 12:01 a.m. Friday.

In a news release, health officials said the decision was made “due to the concerning trends in public health indicators and in consultation with the local medical officer of health.

“From March 3 to 9, 2021, the region’s case rate increased by 54.1 per cent to 75.9 cases per 100,000 people,” the release said. The health unit is currently in the red “control” tier of the colour-coded system.

Other public health units that saw double-digit increases were:

  • Ottawa: 64
  • Simcoe Muskoka: 43
  • Windsor-Essex: 39
  • Hamilton: 38
  • Waterloo Region: 37
  • Durham Region: 36
  • Halton Region: 33
  • Lambton: 33
  • Middlesex-London: 26
  • Niagara Region: 26
  • Eastern Ontario: 18
  • Chatham-Kent: 10

(Note: All of the figures used in this story are found on the Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 dashboard or in its Daily Epidemiologic Summary. The number of cases for any region may differ from what is reported by the local public health unit on a given day, because local units report figures at different times.)

The seven-day average of new daily cases climbed to 1,252, its highest point in about a month (though it is important to note that, due to a data error, the daily case count on March 8 was artificially inflated by a few hundred infections that should have been reported the previous Saturday).

Meanwhile, labs completed 60,619 tests for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, and logged a test positivity rate of 2.4 per cent.

Labs confirmed another 35 cases of the virus variant first found in the United Kingdom, bringing the total number so far 956. They also reported 11 and two more cases caused by the variants first identified in Brazil and South Africa, bringing those totals to 28 and 41, respectively.

The true number of each variant of concern is likely much higher, however. Specific variants can only be confirmed once the samples have undergone whole genomic sequencing. an intensive process that can lead to reporting lags in the data of up to three weeks.

The tell-tale mutation that indicates the presence of a variant of concern was detected in 468 of the samples that tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 on March 10. In Ontario so far, 6,513 samples have screened positive for the mutation. Labs are still trying to pinpoint specific variants in the vast majority of those samples.

More to come.

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