Williams calls upward trend of new COVID-19 cases 'troubling' as Ontario logs 1,746 new infections
Published Monday, November 30, 2020 10:14AM EST
Last Updated Monday, November 30, 2020 3:57PM EST
The number of new COVID-19 cases in Ontario surpassed 1,700 once again today amid a significant drop in testing over the past 24 hours.
Ontario health officials reported 1,746 new infections today, up slightly from the 1,708 confirmed one day prior but down from the record 1,855 recorded on Friday.
The new cases come as the province reports a notable drop in testing today.
After surpassing 50,000 tests per day for three consecutive days, only 39,406 tests were completed yesterday.
According to provincial health officials, the test positivity rate provincewide is now 4.6 per cent, up substantially from 3.7 per cent on Sunday but on par with the positivity rate at this point last week.
The rolling seven-day average of new cases is now 1,570, up from 1,429 one week ago.
"These trends of course remain concerning. The fact that we have had record high numbers on Friday and continued high numbers over the weekend and today is troubling," Dr. David Williams, Ontario's chief medical officer of health, said at a news conference on Monday afternoon.
"The question is will we be able to keep it there and come down or will we plateau and start going up again?"
COVID-related hospitalizations also climbed to 618 today, up from 601 on Sunday, with 168 of those patients now in intensive care.
A count of local public health units and individual hospitals puts the number of hospitalizations at 631.
Eight more virus-related deaths were recorded today, down from 24 on Sunday and the lowest single-day death toll since Nov. 20.
Two of the fatalities confirmed over the past 24 hours involve residents of long-term care facilities, the latest data from the province reveals.
Of the new infections today, 622 are in Toronto, 390 are in Peel, and 217 are in York Region.
Toronto's total today is the highest single-day tally recorded in the city since the start of the pandemic.
Another 108 new cases were reported in Durham Region today, up from 73 one day prior.
GTA public health units account for nearly 80 per cent of all new COVID-19 cases in the province and today marks one week since Toronto and Peel Region entered a 28-day lockdown.
During the lockdown, restaurants can only remain open for takeout and delivery and non-essential retailers are only permitted to offer curbside pickup and delivery.
Gyms, casinos, and movie theatres have also been closed.
Residents are being advised to only gather with members of their household and only go out for essential purposes.
Tougher public health measures were introduced in five more Ontario regions today, including Windsor-Essex, which was placed in the province's "red" zone.
Task force working on plan for vaccine rollout
Last week, the province released details of its COVID-19 vaccine task force, which will be responsible for the distribution of vaccines when they are approved and arrive in Canada.
Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott previously said she expects Ontario to receive a total of 2.4 million doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines in the first three months of 2021.
Recipients of the vaccine will require two doses 28 days apart, which means the first shipment Ontario receives will likely only be enough to inoculate 1.2 million residents.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said last week that he expects most Canadians who want to be vaccinated will be able to do so by September 2021.
"I really think that if we have these vaccines landing on Canadian soil some time in very early 2021, like if it is the month of January, even in early February, I think this would be considered a huge success," Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious diseases specialist, told CP24 on Monday morning.
"We are not making these vaccines here. We are really relying on companies in other countries to produce this and send it to us."
He said early rollout of the vaccine in Canada will go a long way to protecting the most vulnerable.
"Even with that very first early batch of vaccines that are coming... you can do so much good with that. If we just vaccinate target populations, like people in long-term care facilities... right off the bat, you are going to just decrease the probability of so many people getting very, very sick, coming to hospital, and sadly dying," he said.
"We can alleviate that, we can alleviate tremendous suffering at an individual level but we can also take off tremendous pressure from our health-care system... Even well before September we can do some tremendous good."
New cases in the GTHA today:
Peel Region: 390
York Region: 217
Durham Region: 108
Halton Region: 35