After record daily COVID-19 case counts over the weekend, Ontario is reporting a dip in new infections today but the test positivity rate is still on the rise as fewer than 30,000 tests were processed over the past 24 hours.
Provincial health officials recorded 851 new cases of the virus today, significantly fewer new infections than the 1,042 confirmed on Sunday and 978 recorded on Saturday.
Despite the drop in the daily case count today, the province has actually seen an increase in the test positivity rate due to a notable decline in testing.
According to the province's latest data, 28,700 tests were processed yesterday, down from nearly 39,000 on Sunday and well below the record 48,500 tests conducted one day earlier this month.
Dr. Barbara Yaffe, Ontario’s associate chief medical officer of health, told reporters Monday that Ontario's test positivity rate today is 3.8 per cent and the seven-day average of per cent positivity is now 3 per cent, up from 2.6 one week ago.
The rolling seven-day average of new cases also continues to rise and is now at a record 878, up from 743 one week ago.
With just 679 additional recoveries today, the number of active cases in the province has risen to 7,286.
Six more virus-related deaths were recorded today with two fatalities involving residents of long-term care.
The total number of COVID-19 related deaths in Ontario is now 3,099.
According to centrally confirmed data, the number of patients currently hospitalized with COVID-19 is 295, however it should be noted that about 45 hospitals did not submit hospitalization data to the province over the weekend.
Of the 295 patients in hospital, 78 are in intensive care and 51 are breathing with the assistance of a ventilator.
Data from individual public health units and hospitals suggests that the number of people infected with COVID-19 who are receiving treatment in Ontario hospitals is at least 335.
The highest number of new cases continue to come from the province's largest regions, including Toronto (281), Peel Region (215), York Region (90), and Ottawa (76).
Yaffe said some local public health units have recently seen a number of outbreaks related to sports and recreation activities.
“Ottawa Public Health has reported over 50 cases linked to seven sports and recreation outbreaks, including six in hockey and one in football,” she said.
Yaffe noted that there have also been clusters linked to private family gatherings, including gatherings over the Thanksgiving weekend.
Thanksgiving could be responsible for spike in cases
Infectious diseases specialist Dr. Isaac Bogoch said the rise in cases in recent days could be related to Thanksgiving gatherings.
“This is two weeks after Thanksgiving. We are seeing that rise in cases,” he told CP24 on Monday morning. “The timing fits perfectly.”
He noted that while the recent daily case counts are concerning, the numbers over the next week or two will provide a better picture of the situation in Ontario.
He added that the province should soon start to see what, if any, effect additional public health restrictions have had in Toronto, Peel Region, and Ottawa, where gyms, movie theatres, and indoor dining rooms have been closed since Oct. 10.
“The restrictions were imposed just over two weeks ago. We wouldn't even expect to see a whiff of change until around this mark now,” Bogoch said.
“Between when they are imposed and now, that window period in between, you would actually expect to see cases rise because those restrictions don't have any impact until now… This week and next week are going to be pretty crucial weeks to watch.”
Residents in the regions of Halton and Durham are also waiting to hear from the premier this week about whether additional restrictions will be implemented in those areas.
The two regions have seen an uptick in COVID-19 infections over the past two weeks and on Friday, Ford told reporters that he hoped to have an answer today about whether more regions will join Toronto, Peel, Ottawa, and York in a modified version of Stage 2.
The premier’s office confirmed to CP24 this morning that Ford will not be making an announcement about additional restrictions today.
New cases in the GTA:
Peel Region: 215:
York Region: 90
Durham Region: 23
Halton Region: 27