Ontario is reporting another 3,270 cases of COVID-19 and three more cases of a more contagious new strain of COVID-19 first discovered in the United Kingdom.
On Monday, the seven-day average of daily cases approached 3,000 for the first time.
Health officials said the three new cases of what is known as the U.K. variant are either linked to travel or a close contact of someone who has travelled.
Dr. Barbara Yaffe, Ontario’s associate chief medical officer of health, said two of the cases — one in Toronto and one in York Region — had recently travelled to the U.K.
She said the third case, in Peel Region, is a close contact of someone who recently travelled to Dubai.
The province now has a total of six confirmed cases of the new strain.
“I want to take this opportunity to remind Ontarians to travel only if absolutely necessary. And if you do travel, you must maintain your quarantine for 14 days upon returning to the country,” Yaffe told reporters.
“I cannot emphasize how important this is. COVID-19 does not know borders.”
The first known cases of the U.K. variant were logged last month in a couple from Durham Region who had also come in contact with someone returning from the U.K.
Yaffe said Ontario doesn’t have any known cases of a variant first discovered in South Africa.
The Public Health Agency of Canada previously said early data suggests the new U.K. strain may be more transmissible, but ongoing research so far indicates the variant does not impact vaccine effectiveness.
Health officials have said they do not plan to report the different strains out separately in provincial summary reports.
Officials report 917 cases in Toronto on Monday
As for the 3,270 cases of COVID-19 reported on Monday, Dr. David Williams, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, noted that Toronto, Peel and York Region make up about 50 per cent of the new total.
The new cases include 917 in Toronto, 581 in Peel Region, 389 in York Region, 246 in Windsor-Essex, 131 in Ottawa, 126 in Waterloo Region and 122 in Durham Region.
Other public health units that saw double-digit increases were:
- Middlesex-London: 98
- Hamilton: 94
- Niagara Region: 86
- Lambton: 77
- Halton Region: 70
- Eastern Ontario: 55
- Simcoe Muskoka: 54
- Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph: 48
- Southwestern: 42
- Brant County: 20
- Chatham-Kent: 25
- Huron Perth: 22
- Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge: 11
- Renfrew County: 11
(Note: All of the figures used in this story are found on the Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 dashboard or in its Daily Epidemiologic Summary. The number of cases for any region may differ from what is reported by the local public health unit, because local units report figures at different times.)
Combined, the new cases reported today push the seven-day average of daily cases to 2,982.
There are now 24,778 confirmed, active cases of COVID-19 provincewide.
Ontario’s network of labs processed just 39,121 test samples for the novel coronavirus and reported a test positivity rate of 9.7 per cent. Another 19,683 tests are in the queue to be completed.
Moreover, the province says 4,808 doses of COVID-19 vaccines were administered yesterday, bringing the total number of shots given so far in Ontario to 42,419.
This morning, an Ontario health-care worker became the first person in the province to receive both doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, 21 days after her first shot. Anita Quidangen was given her second dose at Toronto’s University Health Network.
Quidangen said she hopes others will follow in her footsteps as the province continues its rollout of two COVID-19 vaccines.
WATCH | Premier Doug Ford on Ontario’s vaccine rollout so far:
Premier Doug Ford, who was present as Quidangen and four others were set to receive their second dose, acknowledged there have been “a few bumps in the road” in the province’s immunization campaign.
But he said the program is ramping up and there should be a “significant difference” in the next few weeks.
Meanwhile, the number of patients in hospital with the illness jumped considerably, up 192 to 1,190.
Of those, 333 are being treated in intensive care, while 194 require the use of a ventilator.
The province also recorded an additional 29 deaths of people with COVID-19, raising the official toll to 4,679.
Currently 219 long-term care homes — more than one-third of Ontario’s 626 facilities — are now facing outbreaks of COVID-19.
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