Ontario is technically reporting its highest number of new cases of COVID-19 in a week but the numbers are inflated due to a data glitch that led to dozens of cases being missed in yesterday’s count.

The Ministry of Health is confirming 428 new cases of the virus today but a spokesperson says that number includes 87 cases from the City of Toronto which were not included in Thursday’s data due to a “one-time data upload issue.”

That means that the actual number of new cases today is 341 and that the number of new cases yesterday was 345 and not the 258 that were reported at the time.

Those 258 cases had previously sparked optimism as it would have represented the lowest number the province had seen since March 29 and came on a day that Premier Doug Ford announced that a number of businesses, including all retail stores, would be allowed to reopen.

“We didn’t go back over 400 which was the good news from today,” Ontario Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams said Friday.

It should be noted that the province has reported an average of 339 new cases of the virus each day over the last week, so the last two day’s numbers do not represent a significant deviation from that.

“This was just a technical glitch that we only found out about yesterday after our press conference and after the numbers were reported,” Health Minister Christine Elliott said at Queen’s Park on Friday afternoon. “While the number isn’t as good as we thought yesterday it still is good. We are still seeing a gradual slow downturn and that is exactly what we need to see in order to continue to open up our economy.”

27 more deaths

The number of new cases of COVID-19 has been on the decline since a record 640 were confirmed on April 25, though Ontario's top public health official Dr. David Williams has previously conceded that it is “not a very rapid downward trend” and has, at times, questioned the dedication of some residents to physical distancing.

The latest data released by the province on Friday indicates that nearly 76 per cent of the 21,922 confirmed cases in the province are now considered recovered.

It also suggests that fatalities may finally be trending downwards after a grim few weeks.

There were 27 more deaths in people who had contracted the virus on Thursday, which is the lowest number since April 26 and far off the record 86 deaths the province saw on April 30.

The province is now reporting a total of 1,825 deaths due to novel coronavirus infection, while the province’s 34 local public health units were reporting 1,887 deaths as of Friday morning.

The gap can be explained by a delay in the reporting of data.

Hospitalizations, meanwhile, have fallen beneath the 1,000 mark for the first time in weeks.

There are now 986 COVID-19 patients who are hospitalized, including 179 people in intensive care units.

Long-term care homes, where Premier Doug Ford has likened the spread of the virus to “wildfire,” do continue to account for a disproportionate share of cases and death but Williams has said that he believes the epidemic may have now peaked in those facilities as well.

There have been a total of 263 outbreaks at Ontario’s 626 long-term care homes, which is an increase of nine from one day prior. Those outbreaks have infected 2,953 residents and 1,580 staff.

Of those, 1,380 residents of long-term care and five staff members have died.

In retirement homes, 180 residents have died.

“We are moving forward in a really good way right now and we just want to keep the numbers going down,” Ford said at a press conference on Friday. “All the credit goes to people of Ontario. If they didn’t follow the protocols from the chief medical officer we wouldn’t be in the position we are in right now.”

A total of 18,354 tests were conducted by the province on Thursday, up from 17,429 on Wednesday.

Other highlights from the data:

  • There have now been 3,722 confirmed cases in healthcare workers, accounting for 17 per cent of all cases
  • There have been 77 outbreaks in hospital units. Those outbreaks have included 316 cases among patients and 336 cases among staff.
  • 2,779 COVID-19 patients have been hospitalized since the start of the epidemic (12.7 per cent of all cases)
  • Elderly people make up the majority of deaths but there have been eight fatalities in the demographic between the ages of 20 and 39. That is up one from the previous day.
  • Greater Toronto Area public health units account for 62.6 per cent of all cases
  • The province has now conducted a total of 510,841 tests for COVID-19