New COVID-19 cases surpass 400 in Ontario for first time since early June
Published Friday, September 18, 2020 10:19AM EDT
Last Updated Friday, September 18, 2020 10:00PM EDT
New COVID-19 cases in Ontario have surpassed 400 for the first time in three months as infections continue to climb in the Greater Toronto Area.
Provincial health officials reported 401 new cases of the virus today, up from the 293 confirmed on Thursday and the 315 recorded on Wednesday.
Daily case counts have been steadily rising over the past week and today’s number is the highest reported in the province since the beginning of June.
The seven-day rolling average of new infections now stands at 287, up from 170 one week ago.
Nearly 36,000 tests were completed over the past 24 hours, bringing the case positivity rate to 1.1 per cent.
At one point in August, the case positivity rate dropped to as low as 0.28 per cent.
The number of active cases in Ontario continues to significantly outpace recoveries with 176 cases moving over to the recovered column today.
There are currently 2,652 active cases of COVID-19 in the province, up from 1,657 one week ago.
In August, active cases in the province were consistently below 1,000.
Toronto on ‘deeply troubling’ path, mayor says
The highest number of new infections were reported today in Toronto (130), Peel Region (82), and Ottawa (61), and York Region (40).
The spike in cases comes on the same day that new restrictions are officially in effect around private gatherings, events public health officials say have been linked to several new infections in the province.
Residents in Toronto, Peel Region, and Ottawa are now only permitted to have gatherings of 25 people outdoors and 10 people indoors and those caught organizing "illegal social gatherings" will face a $10,000 fine, the premier said Thursday.
The restrictions do not apply to “staffed businesses,” including restaurants, movie theatres, banquet halls, and gyms.
The rest of the province is still permitted to host outdoor gatherings of up to 100 people and indoor gatherings of up to 50.
“The bottom line is the status quo has us on a path that is very deeply troubling and we've got to try to arrest that trend as quickly as we possibly can with the cooperation of the people,” Mayor John Tory said about Toronto’s surge in cases.
“We can pass all the rules and have all the policies and all the regulations that we want but if people don't decide as a whole, and most have, but if the remaining people don't decide they are going to get with the program, it won't make the difference it could.”
Infectious disease special Dr. Isaac Bogoch has warned that while the new rules around gatherings are “helpful,” they won’t be the “silver bullet” the province needs to curb the spread of COVID-19.
He added that there are still questions surrounding how the new rules will be implemented.
“It is one thing to make this announcement, it is another issue to implement and make sure people are abiding by it," Bogoch said.
"I'll be interested to hear how this is communicated... throughout the province and to see if and how people abide by this but if they do, I think we'll be in a little bit better shape."
On a positive note, no new deaths were reported in the province today and hospitalizations have remained relatively stable in recent days, with a slight decline in intensive care admissions and patients on ventilators today.
According to the province’s latest epidemiological summary, 58 patients infected with the virus are currently receiving care at Ontario hospitals and of those people, 20 are in intensive care and 10 are on ventilators.
Speaking at a news confernece alongside other Canadian premiers this afternoon, Premier Doug Ford called the jump in cases "concerning."
"You've seen cases jump from 300 to over 400 over a few days," Ford said. "It is very concerning."
Ford said members of his cabinet will be meeting soon to discuss rolling back the size of gatherings in other regions of the province.
Asked about long lineups that continue outside testing centre around Ontario, Ford said the province is working to ramp up testing.
"I'm pushing that system to hit 50,000 (per day)... then I want to ramp it up to the next level," he said.
"Over the next little while, we are going to be ramping this up until we have pharmacies right across this province (testing). You'll be able to walk into a pharmacy and get a test."
New cases in the GTA:
Peel Region: 82
York Region: 40
Halton Region: 19
Durham Region: 8