'Alarm bells are ringing louder and louder,' Ontario's top doctor says after new single-day high for COVID-19 cases
Published Thursday, October 8, 2020 10:21AM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, October 8, 2020 5:41PM EDT
Ontario is reporting a single-day record high of 797 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday and four new deaths, also setting a new daily record for the number of tests completed.
"Locally, there are 265 new cases in Toronto, 182 in Ottawa, 134 in Peel and 78 in York Region," Health Minister Christine Elliott wrote on Twitter.
She said close to 48,500 tests were completed, approaching the Ford government's stated goal of 50,000 daily tests completed per day in October.
More than 58,000 test specimens were still awaiting processing on Thursday.
The positivity rate generated by Thursday's result was 1.64 per cent.
Ontario's previous record of daily cases was 732, recorded on Oct. 2.
The province reported 583 cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday and 548 on Tuesday.
Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams said there are differences between numbers seen recently and those at the peak of the first wave in April, specifically wider availability of tests.
"Back in wave one we had to say if you had symptoms and they were mild, stay home. Whereas now they may have come out now and tested positive," he said.
Elliott said 695 people recovered from illness on Thursday, leading to a net increase in active cases of 98.
There are now 5,442 active cases of novel coronavirus in Ontario, with 2,992 deaths and 48,308 recoveries.
Two of the four deaths reported on Thursday were of long-term care residents. Public Health Ontario says one of the deaths recorded on Thursday was in a person aged 20-39, but they provided no further details.
Amid rising rates of infection, Toronto's top public health doctor and mayor have asked for restrictions including a pause on indoor dining for 28 days and restrictions on indoor gym activities in order to slow the spread.
The Ford government has so far refused to endorse those measures, with Premier Doug Ford saying any evidence of spread caused by the food service industry is the work of a few "bad actors" that can be stopped.
On Wednesday, Toronto Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa released modelling suggesting the city's number of active cases could increase tenfold by March 2021, if nothing is done soon.
Speaking on Thursday afternoon, Drs. Williams and Chief Coroner of Ontario Dr. Dirk Huyer would not say if they had recommend measures such as ending indoor dining to the Ford cabinet.
Epidemiologist Dr. Isaac Bogoch said Thursday he agrees something must be done in Toronto.
"The status quo is not acceptable – we should not continue doing what we're doing now – she is calling for additional measures to be enacted in Toronto to help curb the spread in the community and I would certainly agree with her," he told CP24.
"If we continue down this path we're going to see an unacceptable number of cases in the community, this obviously translates into an unacceptable number of hospitalizations and then leads to deaths. And it's preventable."
Elsewhere in the GTA, Durham Region reported 22 new cases and Halton Region reported 33 new cases.
The test positivity rate in Peel, Toronto and Ottawa has also increased considerably in recent days, Williams said, with all three communities now reporting that three per cent of everyone tested comes back positive, versus no more 1.6 per cent province-wide.
"Our alarm bells are ringing louder and louder," he said.
He also said that a sustained backlog in test processing continues to impact reporting of results, and some of the data received Thursday may have come from tests collected "five to seven days ago."
Hospitalizations also crossed the 200-mark on Thursday.
There are now 206 people in hospital receiving treatment for COVID-19 across the province, up from 195 on Wednesday.
Of those, 47 patients are in intensive care and 29 are breathing with the help of a ventilator.
"It's just the start of the curve so we have to be careful about that," Williams said.