COVID cases are 'coming down steadily' as province reports fewer than 2,000 new infections but risks remain: Williams
Published Monday, January 25, 2021 10:21AM EST
Last Updated Monday, January 25, 2021 5:12PM EST
Ontario’s top public health official says that the transmission of COVID-19 appears to be a on the wane after a worrisome spike in cases following the holidays.
Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams made the comment during a briefing on Monday, hours after the Ministry of Health reported 1,958 new COVID-19 cases and 43 more deaths.
The seven-day average of daily cases fell from 2,460 to 2,371 over the last 24 hours. That is down from 3,074 at this point last week and 3,394 on Jan. 11.
“A lot of the health units their numbers per 100,000 are coming down pretty well across the board, there's a few sort of plateauing and levelling off, but it tells us that we're going in the right direction and that you're doing the right things you need to do,” Williams said, while acknowledging that the trend should still be taken with “a grain of salt” due to the circulation of a new, more contagious variant that originated in the United Kingdom.
Provincial labs processed about 36,000 test specimens in the past 24 hours, generating a positivity rate of at least 5.4 per cent.
There have been 5,846 deaths and 227,494 recoveries from coronavirus infection since Jan. 25, 2020.
Another 23,620 active cases remain in Ontario, and that number is down approximately 2,000 in the past week.
Twenty-seven of the deaths reported on Monday involved residents of the long-term care system.
There were at least 1,425 patients receiving care in Ontario hospitals on Monday, according to local public health units and hospital networks, and the Critical Care Services of Ontario report from Sunday said there were 415 adult patients in intensive care across Ontario, along with one child.
ICU occupancy has held roughly steady for the past two weeks.
About 283 people were breathing with the help of a ventilator.
Michael Garron Hospital intensivist Dr. Michael Warner said that admissions to hospital appear to be stabilizing, but the situation could worsen dramatically because of the highly infectious B.1.1.7 variant from the United Kingdom.
“I think it is great that case numbers are coming down, we can’t dispute that, and ICU admissions are stable around 415 for the past week or so. I guess that is good but we can’t let our guard down. And we really have no idea how much B117 and other variants are circulating in Ontario or Canada,” he said.
On Sunday, officials in Simcoe-Muskoka said they detected another what was believed to be the 21st case of the B.1.1.7 variant, in a retail store worker who had contact with residents of a Bradford long-term care home.
Williams, however, said during Monday’s briefing that the total confirmed number of cases involving the variant is actually 34, up from 15 last week.
Public Health Ontario is conducting a “point-prevalence study” of all positive samples collected on a given day last week to see how many cases of the UK variant are circulating in the community.
Of the new cases confirmed on Monday, 727 are in Toronto, 365 are in Peel, 157 are in York, 62 are in Durham, 55 are in Hamilton and 54 are in Halton.
Meanwhile, supply restrictions continue to limit the number of additional COVID-19 vaccinations administered per day.
Health Minister Christine Elliott said about 6,000 more doses were administered on Sunday, bringing the total to about 292,000 injections to date.