Ontario’s Top Doctor Says “Alarm Bells Are Ringing Louder” as Province Reports Record High 797 New COVID-19 Cases

Ontario's labs processed nearly 48,500 tests as the province pushes toward 50,000 tests processed targets

“Alarm bells are ringing louder and louder” as the number of new COVID-19 cases in Ontario grows increasingly higher, warned Ontario’s top doctor.

During a news conference on Thursday afternoon, Dr. David Williams, the province’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, told reporters that there continues to be a growing cause for concern over the rise in COVID-19 cases.

Additionally, Dr. Williams told Ontarians to “stay tuned” about the possible new public health measures as cases rise and COVID-19 positive test rates increases.

When asked about the specifics of the public health measures and when they could take effect, Dr. Williams wouldn’t say.

“When the time is right, I’m sure the minister and premier will be forthcoming,” said Ontario’s top doctor.

With the Thanksgiving long weekend approaching, Dr. Williams urged Ontarians to take the advice of public health officials seriously including avoiding gatherings, observing physical distancing and wearing masks.

According to the province’s top doctor, the average age associated with COVID-19 outbreaks and infections is growing younger, but the novel coronavirus is also spiking once more in vulnerable populations.

The positivity rate during this second wave is up to 2.1 percent on average, added Dr. Williams saying it is closer to three percent in Toronto, Peel Region and Ottawa. Outside of those hotspots, cases are also rising in the regions of Halton, York, Durham and Simcoe.

The number of people in Ontario hospitals with confirmed cases of COVID-19 continued its steady climb upward, up to 206 from 195. Of those, 47 are being treated in intensive care units, while 29 are on ventilators.

“Some will say those are still small numbers,” Dr. Williams said. “It’s just the start of the curve rising.”   

Also rising is the number of outbreaks the province is facing, totalling 112 on Thursday — almost double what it was two weeks ago, with more cases in vulnerable sectors and schools.

Those outbreaks aren’t just occurring in hotspot regions, but also in areas like Muskoka, Niagara, Waterloo and eastern Ontario, Dr. Williams said.

Ontario COVID-19 Statistics

Ontario reported 797 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, the most on any single day since the outbreak began, while the province’s labs processed 48,488 tests — also a single-day record.

As has been the case in recent months, most of the new cases are concentrated in four public health units:

  • Toronto: 265
  • Ottawa: 182
  • Peel Region: 134
  • York Region: 78

Other areas that saw double-digit increases include:

  • Halton Region: 33
  • Simcoe-Muskoka: 24
  • Durham Region: 22
  • Hamilton: 11
  • Middlesex-London: 11
  • Waterloo Region: 10

About 57 percent of the newly confirmed infections are in people under 40 years old, Health Minister Christine Elliott said in a tweet. Further, 100 of today’s cases are school-related, including 51 students, 22 staff and 27 people categorized as “individuals not identified.”

A total of 415 of Ontario’s 4,828 publicly-funded schools, or about 8.6 percent, have now reported at least one case of COVID-19 in either students or staff.

The province has now seen a total of 56,742 confirmed cases of COVID-19 since late January. About 85.1 percent are considered resolved. Another 695 cases were marked resolved in today’s provincial report.

There are currently some 5,442 confirmed, actives cases of the illness provincewide, an increase of 98 over yesterday. About 74 percent of those are in the Greater Toronto Area.

The developments come as provincial officials ask Ontarians to spend the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday with only people in their household.

“I know it’s tough on everyone,” Premier Doug Ford said on Wednesday. “We’re all going to make sacrifices to stop the spread of COVID-19.”

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