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Ontario reports record 978 new COVID-19 cases

Ontario reported 978 new COVID-19 cases on Saturday, the most on a single day since the outbreak began in late January.

Saturday’s count surpasses the previous high of 939, which was reported on Oct. 9.

The update also brings the province’s seven-day average of new daily cases to just under 803.

Health Minister Christine Elliott said the majority of the new cases are concentrated in Toronto, which once again led the way with 348. Another 170 cases were reported in Peel Region, followed by 141 in York Region and 89 in Ottawa.

A handful of other areas saw double-digit increases as well:

  • Durham Region: 51.
  • Eastern Ontario: 43.
  • Simcoe Muskoka: 23. 
  • Halton Region: 21.
  • Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph: 15.
  • Waterloo Region: 14.
  • Hamilton: 10.
  • Niagara Region: 10.

The number of patients hospitalized in Ontario due to COVID-19 now sits at 294, an increase of 18 since Friday.

There are 82 people in intensive care units, an increase of four, and 53 people are on ventilators, an increase of six.

Ontario’s cumulative total of cases now sits at 69,331. Some 625 cases were marked as resolved in Saturday’s update. 

Six more people have died of COVID-19 in Ontario. The provincial death toll now stands at 3,086. 

Nearly 44,200 tests completed

Meanwhile, Ontario’s network of community, commercial and hospital labs processed 44,151 novel coronavirus test samples since its last daily report.

While that figure marks the highest number of daily tests completed so far this week, it still falls short of Ontario’s goal of processing 50,000 tests per day by mid-October. The province also set a goal of processing 68,000 tests by mid-November.

Dr. Sumon Chakrabarti, an infectious diseases specialist at Trillium Health Partners in Mississauga, Ont., attributes that shortfall to Ontario’s tightened testing criteria and move to appointment-only testing.

“This has caused a bit of problems because we’re getting people to make appointments, but there are some double bookings happening, people not showing up,” he told CBC News Network on Saturday.

“This has put a little bit of a wrench in plans.”

But Chakrabarti said despite those issues, he hopes testing will ramp up in the coming weeks.

“It’s important for us to have the right testing at the right time and not just the big numbers. Otherwise you start to get a picture that does not actually represent what’s happening on the ground,” he said.

Halton mayors ask to stay in Stage 3 

Meanwhile, two mayors and MPPs from Halton Region wrote a letter to Dr. David Williams, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, on Friday, pleading with him to refrain from imposing Stage 2 restrictions on the area. 

“Last week when York Region faced new restrictions, Halton Region came together. We acted quickly to implement several recommendations made by our Medical Officer of Health,” the letter reads. 

“These measures are working.” 

The letter — signed by MPPs Parm Gill and Jane McKenna, as well as Halton Regional Chair Gary Carr, Burlington Mayor Marianne Meed Ward and Milton Mayor Gordon Krantz — also noted that the region’s positivity rate has not moved past public health’s “high alert” range of 2.5 per cent.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford, shown earlier this month, hinted on Friday that Halton Region could soon join the list of regions with stricter COVID-19 measures. He said provincial officials will examine the situation there over the weekend to decide whether the area needs to be moved back into a modified Stage 2. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press)

“In these unprecedented times, individuals and businesses need to have some level of predictability and stability. This is why we are also calling on you to clearly define the criteria used to determine when further restrictions or rollbacks are required, as well as the criteria that must be met for lifting any restrictions or rollbacks,” the letter reads. 

The plea comes after Premier Doug Ford hinted on Friday that Halton could soon join the list of regions with stricter COVID-19 measures.

Ford said provincial officials will examine the situation there over the weekend to decide whether the area needs to be moved back into a modified Stage 2.

The restrictions mean restaurants can only offer outdoor service, and gyms and theatres must close.

“It’s concerning right now, I’ve seen the numbers go up again,” Ford said on Friday.

Asked if a similar move would be considered for Durham Region, where new cases are also increasing, Ford said the province will look at every area that’s experiencing “a little escalation” and provide clarity on Monday.

Toronto, Peel Region and Ottawa moved to a modified Stage 2 — which includes the closure of gyms, movie theatres and casinos, and a ban on indoor dining in restaurants or bars — on Oct. 10, while York Region did so this week.

The tighter rules are set to be reviewed after 28 days, and Ford said he would make decisions on any steps beyond that based on the advice of the provincial health team.




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