Ontario sees 296 new COVID-19 cases, nearly 75% of adults now have first vaccine dose

Ontario reported 296 additional cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, the fewest on a single day since last September, as well as the deaths of 13 more people with the illness.

The rolling seven-day average of daily cases, one of the most critical indicators of the pandemic’s growth or decline, is down to 479, its lowest point since Sept. 29, 2020. The measure peaked in Ontario at nearly 4,400 in April. 

Labs completed 17,162 tests and Public Health Ontario logged a positivity rate of 2.3 per cent, down from last Tuesday’s 2.7 per cent with a roughly similar number of tests.

The number of active infections stands at just over 5,000. During the height of the third wave of the pandemic, there were nearly 43,000 active cases in the province.

That said, Ontario stops counting an infection as “active” after two weeks. That means the figure does not necessarily reflect the real number of people who are experiencing COVID-related symptoms.

As of Monday, there were 382 people with COVID-related illnesses being treated in intensive care units. Of those, 244 needed a ventilator to breathe.

Notably, both figures are well below the worst levels seen during the second wave earlier this year. At its height, about 420 patients were in ICUs and 315 or so people were on ventilators.

The average of daily new admissions to ICUs has also decreased substantially, according to Critical Care Services Ontario, a government agency that compiles a daily report for hospitals and health organizations.

However, those patients who remain in intensive care are very ill, the same data suggests, as the median stay has grown to more than four weeks, the longest at any point during the pandemic in Ontario. 

The 13 further deaths reported by the Ministry of Health push the official toll to 8,974. The seven-day average of daily deaths decreased to 12.4.

Meanwhile, public health units collectively administered 184,989 more doses of COVID-19 vaccines yesterday. Ontario is now averaging more than 180,000 shots per day.

More than 64 per cent of Ontarians have now had at least one dose, or nearly 75 per cent of residents 18 and older.

That is already above the 70 per cent threshold the government has set as a main criterion for moving into Phase 2 of the province’s reopening plan.

Another key benchmark is at least 20 per cent of adults fully immunized against the illness. Given the current trajectory of second doses — which have begun to outpace doses being used for first shots — Ontario could reach the target by the end of this week.

As of last night, more than two million Ontarians, or roughly 16.8 per cent of adults, had gotten both doses.

Young people, unvaccinated residents driving surge in Porcupine: officials

Officials in Porcupine Health Unit said today that children, adults under 30 and people who are not vaccinated are driving a surge in COVID-19 cases in the region, the only one in Ontario that did not move into the first phase of reopening last week.

Dr. Lianne Catton, the area’s medical officer of health, said at a news conference that the case rate in the health is 290 per week per 100,000 — nearly five times higher than the rate the province had set as a benchmark for reopening.

Recent data shows the majority of the active cases are located in Timmins and in First Nations communities in the James Bay and Hudson Bay regions.

Catton said last week that the more infectious delta variant of concern, which first appeared in India, was detected through community transmission.

Ontario’s COVID-19 Science Advisory Table estimates that the delta variant currently accounts for about 40 per cent of all new cases in the province, though some of that figure is attributable to a drop in the share of new cases caused by the B117 alpha variant, first identified in the United Kingdom. 

The alpha variant fuelled the third wave of the pandemic in Ontario.

Catton urged residents to restrict their interactions and continue to follow public health measures.

She said there has been some progress in recent days, but it’s too early to say when the region will reopen.

“We need to see a more sustained pattern that is really solid before making any considerations,” she added.

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