Ont. reports nearly 1,300 new COVID-19 cases, highest daily total in more than 6 months
Published Thursday, December 9, 2021 9:58AM EST
Last Updated Thursday, December 9, 2021 9:58AM EST
Ontario is reporting nearly 1,300 new COVID-19 cases today, the highest single-day tally in the province in more than six months.
Provincial health officials logged 1,290 new infections today, up from 1,009 on Wednesday and 959 one week ago.
Today's total is the highest daily case count reported in Ontario since May 24, when 1,446 infections were confirmed.
The seven-day rolling average of new cases also hit a more than six-month high on Thursday, reaching 1,055 today, up from 851 last week.
The last time the average daily case count surpassed this total was on May 31.
Of the cases reported today, 548 are in those who are unvaccinated, 42 involve people who are partially vaccinated, 617 are in those who are fully immunized, and 83 involve people with an unknown vaccination status.
About 80 per cent of all Ontarians have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 76 per cent are considered fully inoculated. About 42 per cent of the new cases confirmed today were found in the approximately 20 per cent of the population who remain unvaccinated.
Another 10 virus-related deaths were confirmed in Ontario today, bringing the province's COVID-19 death toll to 10,054.
The number of COVID-19 patients receiving treatment in Ontario intensive care units is unchanged from last week at 155. The province says only 24 of those patients are fully immunized.
The public health units with the highest number of new infections today include Toronto (206), Windsor (114), Simcoe Muskoka (103), Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington (98), Peel Region (71), and York Region (66).
The latest numbers come amid concern and uncertainty over what impact the new Omicron variant will have on the country. Omicron cases have been confirmed in various regions of the province, including Toronto, Peel Region, Hamilton, and York Region. On Wednesday, the Simcoe Muskoka District Public Health Unit said it is investigating a cluster of seven cases that have a "strong probability" of being the Omicron variant.
A recent COVID-19 case in the Kingston area was identified as the Omicron variant on Wednesday and officials there say the infected person does not have a travel history.
At a news conference on Wednesday, Dr. Piotr Oglaza, the local medical officer of health, said while it is not yet known what impact the Omicron variant will have, the region is seeing a "worrisome trend" emerging.
He said the sheer number of new infections that have recently been reported in the region exceeds what the community saw in previous waves.
"The number of cases is concerning for two reasons. One is that it is an unprecedented spread in this community that we have not seen in previous waves and we also see that the number of cases and spread trickles down to spread in vulnerable populations," Oglaza said.
"And we see even though this is not a provincial trend, we see a worrisome trend in this community where there is a high number of individuals, vulnerable individuals, who are getting sick severely and are getting admitted to hospital. They are getting admitted to ICU."
Kingston Health Sciences confirmed to CP24 Wednesday that for the first time since the start of the pandemic, they have been forced to transfer patients to other hospitals to protect ICU capacity. One patient has been transferred to Brockville and another to Ottawa.
Speaking to CP24 on Thursday morning, Dr. Isaac Bogoch said the province can "get ahead" of the variant of concern by expanding third dose eligibility to everyone in the province who is aged 18 and older.
"We were gradually expanding third dose eligibility I think in a very smart and data-driven manner with the Delta variant, but we are in the Omicron era now and I think given that there is Omicron in Canada, there is a growing number of cases of this in Canada, it is expected to grow just like it is in other parts of the world. We can get ahead of this," he said.
"We really can keep two steps ahead and if we expand eligibility to people who are 18 years of age and older and... do that about six months after their second dose. I think we can do a lot of good with that approach and prevent some people from getting infected and also prevent transmission and further amplification of this in the community."
He noted that boosting access to rapid testing will also help Ontario stay on top of transmission.
"Nova Scotia has done a remarkable job mobilizing rapid tests in community settings," Bogoch said. "I think we could pick it up in the rest of Canada."
On Thursday, Ontario's Science Advisory Table recommended that once per week, voluntary asymptomatic surveillance testing using rapid antigen tests be conducted in schools and workplaces in areas where there are 35 or more weekly cases per 100,000 people, a benchmark that nearly every region of the province surpasses.
In regions with 250 or more weekly cases per 100,000 people, the science table advised that elementary, high school students, and the unvaccinated should be tested two or three times per week.
With 40,242 tests processed over the past 24 hours, officials are reporting a provincewide positivity rate of 3.5 per cent, up from 2.9 per cent last Thursday.
There are now 8,661 known, active COVID-19 cases in Ontario, up from 6,932 one week ago.
The numbers used in this story are found in the Ontario Ministry of Health's COVID-19 Daily Epidemiologic Summary. The number of cases for any city or region may differ slightly from what is reported by the province, because local units report figures at different times.