Ontario has broken two COVID-19 records with more than 3,500 new cases logged and 89 more deaths confirmed.
Health officials confirmed 3,519 cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, a significant increase from the 3,266 infections logged a day earlier. They also logged 89 more deaths related to the disease, surpassing the province's all-time record of 86 deaths recorded on April 30.
At least 43 of the deaths confirmed on Thursday were residents at Ontario long-term care homes.
The death toll related to COVID-19 in the province now stands at 4,856.
Of those deaths, 3,347 were reported in people over the age of 80. At least 1,299 of the deceased were between the ages of 60 and 79 while 187 deaths were reported in people between the ages of 40 and 59.
Twenty-one people between the ages of 20 and 39 have died after contracting COVID-19.
This is the fourth day in a row in which the daily COVID-19 case count has been above 3,100 and the first time the number has surpassed the 3,500 mark since the beginning of the pandemic.
"It’s a sad day. (We’ve seen the) highest number of cases that we have ever reported, (the) highest number of deaths that we have ever reported. Twenty-two out of 34 public health units has more than 10 cases. We have the hospitals that are struggling,” Dr. Dirk Huyer, coordinator of the province's outbreak response, said Thursday.
“We have public health units who aren’t able to do all of the work that they are experts at doing… all of this is very distressing and very sad.”
Ontario's chief medical officer of health told reporters that while modelling predicted a rise in COVID-19 cases in the province, officials had hoped to see the number of infections decrease by now.
"And in fact it's going the other way," Dr. David Williams said. "While our model had said we would see that occurring, we did not want to see it going up that soon that high."
According to the province’s epidemiology report, the majority of cases continue to be found in people under the age of 60. Of Thursday’s 3,519 infections, 2,340 were between the ages of 20 and 59.
There were 514 cases in people between the ages of 60 and 79, and 208 in seniors over the age of 80.
Officials also reported 448 COVID-19 cases in people under the age of 20.
The number of hospitalizations due to the disease continues to rise, with a record-breaking 1,472 people being treated for COVID-19 at Ontario facilities. Of those patients, 363 are in the intensive care unit, with 242 breathing with the assistance of a ventilator.
Ontario reached a new milestone on Wednesday as it surpassed the 200,000 COVID-19 infection mark since the beginning of the pandemic—a record that was reached just 47 days after the province recorded 100,000 cases.
Where are the COVID-19 cases?
The majority of infections continue to be found in southern Ontario.
There were 892 cases in Toronto, 568 in Peel Region, 457 in York Region, 208 in Windsor-Essex, 175 in the region of Waterloo, 174 in Durham Region, 164 in Ottawa, 115 in Middlesex-London and 112 in Niagara.
Other public health units reporting more than 50 infections include Halton Region (95), Simcoe-Muskoka (78) and Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph (90).
The province processed more than 65,700 COVID-19 tests in the last 24 hours. The Ministry of Health says Ontario’s positivity rate now stands at about 6.1 per cent.
Yesterday, officials administered 12,251 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. In total, the province has administered more than 72,000 doses, with about 2,100 vaccinations completed with a second shot.
Ontario has been under a province-wide lockdown since Dec. 26, which forces non-essential businesses to close and prohibits in-person dining at restaurants and bars. The lockdown measures are scheduled to be lifted on Jan. 23.
All publicly-funded schools in southern Ontario are scheduled to resume in-person learning on Jan. 25.
In northern Ontario, students will return to in-class learning on Jan. 11.