Premier Doug Ford said the COVID-19 pandemic in Ontario is “scary” as the province broke another single-day record of more than 4,200 cases.
In his COVID-19 briefing at Queen’s Park Friday morning, Ford said the province is in a “crisis” and pleaded with Ontarians to follow public health protocols to reduce the spread of the virus.
“I've never stressed this so much...we are in a crisis. That's how I can describe it. It is scary and we need to work together,”Ford said.
Ontario logged 4,249 new cases of the virus on Friday, though the latest numbers are slightly over reported due to a data backlog by Toronto Public Health.
Approximately 450 of today’s cases have been included due to a data upload delay at Toronto Public Health, according to the Ministry of Health.
These cases were primarily from Jan. 5 and 6, the ministry said.
Excluding the additional cases, the 3,799 cases logged on Friday still represent a record-high number of infections in the province and beat the previous record of 3,519 cases yesterday.
Ontario logged 3,266 cases on Wednesday and 3,128 on Tuesday.
The seven-day rolling average now stands at 3,394 compared to 2,480 a week ago.
Of the latest deaths, 15 were among long-term care home residents, down from 43 a day ago.
There are currently 231 active outbreaks of the disease caused by the novel coronavirus in long-term care homes across the province, according to data in the province’s latest epidemiological summary.
To date, 2,943 nursing home residents have died from the virus across the province since the pandemic began last March.
Most of the cases continue to be in the Greater Toronto Area.
“Locally, there are 1,382 new cases in Toronto, 691 in Peel, 427 in York Region, 213 in Niagara and 184 in Windsor-Essex County,” Health Minister Christine Elliott tweeted.
Without the additional cases in Toronto, that public health unit recorded roughly 932 new cases, up from 891 on Thursday.
Both Peel Region and York Region recorded their second-highest single-day records on Friday.
Elsewhere in the GTA, Halton Region logged 134 cases, while Durham Region recorded 170 infections.
Of Ontario’s 34 public health units, 24 recorded 10 or more cases on Friday.
As infections rise, Ford warned that if the public doesn’t follow health and safety measures put in place since the pandemic began in March there could be serious consequences.
“If these basic measures continue to be ignored, the consequences will be more dire, the shutdown won't end at the end of January, and we will have to look at more extreme measures,” he said.
On Dec. 26, the government issued a provincewide lockdown until at least Jan. 23 to curb the spread of the virus.
New modelling expected early next week
Ford said the province expects to release new modelling data early next week and the projections will be a “wake-up call.”
“We're in a desperate situation. And when you see the modeling, you'll fall off your chair. Everything is on the table right now, there will be further measures because this is getting out of control. We have to do whatever it takes,” he said.
The last modelling released on Dec. 21 projected that the number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care units across Ontario could surpass 1,500 by mid-January under the worst- case scenario.
By Jan, 24, the modelling table forecasted that the province could see around 6,000 new COVID-19 infections per day with three per cent case growth, close to 14,000 new cases per day with five per cent case growth, and nearly 30,000 cases per day if the province were to see a seven per cent case growth.
According to the government’s epidemiological summary, 1,446 people have been hospitalized with the virus in the past 24 hours.
The latest data from Critical Care Services Ontario said there are currently 383 COVID-19 patients in ICU’s across the province.
Ontario’s Associate Medical Officer of Health Dr. Barbara Yaffe also reiterated Ford’s message that today’s numbers are “scary” and heading in the wrong direction.
“It's going the wrong way. We have more and more people hospitalized, more and more people in ICU, more and more people on ventilators, the hospitals are starting to have to cut back on elective surgeries and other very important procedures that require ICU care,” she said at the press conference.
Yaffe said the province needs to consider stricter measures to control the spread of the virus as hospitals are overwhelmed with patients.
“I think we do need to consider more serious measures. Perhaps similar to what happened in the spring and looking at other jurisdictions, what they have done, what has worked so that we can get ourselves out of this with the light at the end of the tunnel as we vaccinate more and more people,” she said.
Provincial health officials said labs processed more than 71,400 tests in the past 24 hours, up by more than 5,700 from Thursday.
The province’s positivity rate now stands at 6.2 per cent, relatively unchanged from 6.1 per cent a day ago, according to health officials.
To date, there have been nearly 208,400 cases of COVID-19 across the province since late January, and more than 175,300 recoveries.
The death toll from the virus now stands at 4,882.