Ontario health officials report fewer than 1,000 new COVID-19 cases for fourth straight day

Ontario health officials are reporting fewer than 1,000 new cases of COVID-19 for the fourth day in a row as the positivity rate remains low.

The province confirmed 870 new cases of the novel coronavirus on Thursday, which comes after officials reported 916 new infections on Monday, 699 new infections on Tuesday and 733 new infections on Wednesday.

Tuesday’s daily case count was the lowest seen since Oct. 18, 2020 when officials reported 658 new cases of the disease.

Ontario’s rolling seven-day average now stands at 940, down from 1,441 at this point last week.

Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health said Thursday that while the decline in hospitalizations and case counts are encouraging, trends show a steady climb in daily cases over the last three days, something he said could be attributed to the Victoria Day long weekend.

“I don’t want to take away from the fact we have seen excellent improvement in the last week, but this recent uptick is quite concerning,” Dr. David Williams said.

Williams added that he expects to see a higher case count on Friday.

"I hope we don't have a continual rise over the weekend," he said. "Getting over 1,000 again, that would be disappointing to say the least."

With 34,277 tests processed in the past 24 hours, the ministry of health says the positivity rate stood at 2.8 per cent on Thursday.

Officials also said that 10 more people have died due to COVID-19 in the previous 24-hour period, bringing the total number of fatalities to 8,801.

There are currently 729 people in hospital due to the disease. At least 546 of these patients are in intensive care and 317 are breathing with the assistance of a ventilator.

The province deemed 1,563 more cases of the disease to be resolved as of Thursday, bringing Ontario’s number of recovered patients up to 514,999.

Thursday’s report brings the total number of lab-confirmed cases in Ontario to 533,761, including deaths and recoveries.

WHERE ARE THE COVID-19 CASES IN ONTARIO

Most of the new cases reported are concentrated in hot spot regions in the Greater Toronto Area. Officials reported 225 new cases in Toronto, 167 new cases in Peel Region, 44 new cases in Durham Region and 28 new cases in York Region.

The province confirmed an additional 914 new cases of B.1.1.7 (U.K. variant) in Ontario on Thursday. The total case count for the strain now stands at 128,559.

Officials identified two new cases of B.1.351 (South African variant), bringing the total case count in the province to 954.

In addition, the province added 10 more cases of P.1 (Brazilian variant), which brings its total number of cases to 2,921.

Ontario does not currently report daily how many cases of the B.1.617 variant or so-called “delta” variant, originally found in India, are found in the province

Ontario's science advisory table estimates that nearly a quarter of all new COVID-19 cases in Ontario consist of the delta variant. Over the last seven days, that would translate into more than 200 cases of the variant each day.

Public Health Ontario has only been able to confirm 322 cases of the variant because it does not yet have a mass screening tool and relies on limited genomic sequencing.

On Wednesday, Peel Region's Medical Officer of Health Dr. Lawrence Loh told reporters that the Delta variant could become the dominant strain in his community in one month “with the rest of Ontario weeks behind.”

MORE THAN 834K PEOPLE FULLY VACCINATED IN ONTARIO

The province reports that 834,981 people in Ontario have received both doses of a COVID-19 vaccine and are now considered vaccinated against the disease.

In the last 24-hour period, officials said 150,884 doses of the vaccine were administered Ontario residents. Officials have repeatedly said they have the capacity to give about 150,000 vaccines a day.

Just over 9.4 million vaccine doses have been administered in the province since the rollout began earlier this year.