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25 new coronavirus cases confirmed in Ontario, total active cases at 208

Click to play video 'Coronavirus outbreak: Ford says Ontario working hard to ‘flatten the curve’ of COVID-19 spread' Coronavirus outbreak: Ford says Ontario working hard to ‘flatten the curve’ of COVID-19 spread
WATCH ABOVE: During a provincial COVID-19 update on Wednesday, Ontario Premier Doug Ford said that Ontario is “working hard to flatten the curve” of the virus outbreak, stating the province will be setting up 25 dedicated COVID-19 assessment centres to assist hospitals, and will soon be able to conduct 5,000 virus tests per day, up from the current 2,000 test capacity. – Mar 18, 2020

Ontario health officials say there are 25 new coronavirus cases in Ontario on Wednesday bringing the total number of active cases to 208.

Most of the new cases had a travel history to countries like the U.S., Caribbean, Japan, U.K., Germany, Pakistan, Turkey, Mexico, Austria, India and Europe in general.

Others were listed as having contracted COVID-19 through close contact, and some were listed as pending.

READ MORE: Ontario government declares state of emergency amid coronavirus pandemic

New cases include patients from Toronto, York Region, Peel Region, Halton Region, Waterloo, Hamilton, Ottawa, Middlesex-London, Niagara, Chatham-Kent, Grey Bruce, Simcoe-Muskoka, Brant and Algoma.

All of the patients are listed as self-isolating at home.

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Ontario has five cases resolved and one death. Just under 14,000 people have been tested for COVID-19 so far in the province. More than 3,300 cases are being investigated.

Dr. David Williams, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, and Dr. Barbara Yaffe, Ontario’s associate chief medical officer of health, said efforts are underway to increase COVID-19 testing.

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“The lab capacity is going up,” Yaffe told reporters during an update Wednesday afternoon, adding the goal is to eventually process about 5,000 COVID-19 tests a day.

Yaffe and Williams said more hospital labs are coming online in addition to new equipment being setup.

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When asked about people heeding the calls to practice self-distancing, Williams said he was encouraged by recent efforts being taken.

“My sense is Ontarians are taking this seriously,” he said.

“I think people are listening and taking care.”

On Tuesday, Premier Doug Ford declared a state of emergency in Ontario as a result of COVID-19 and mandated the closure of libraries, private schools, daycares, recreation programs, churches and other faith settings, as well as bars and restaurants, except those that offer takeout or delivery.

Ford said grocery stores, convenience stores, pharmacies, manufacturing facilities, public transit, important public services, construction sites and office buildings would all continue to operate.

In a press conference Wednesday morning, Ford said the Ministry of Labour has been in contact with the heads of all construction unions in the province and they all said they’d like sites to remain open.

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“If they feel that job sites shouldn’t be open, they all guaranteed us they will close that job site and we’ll just play it day by day,” he said, adding that any workers who are exhibiting COVID-19-related symptoms are being asked to go home and self-isolate for 14 days.

Ford also discussed the possibility of limiting the number of people who are allowed inside grocery stores at the same time in order to comply with Williams’ recommendation that gatherings of 50 or more people be avoided. He said he has a call scheduled with leaders of the six largest grocery store chains on Thursday.

However, Ford said his focus remains on maintaining the flow of food and supplies.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Windsor, Ont. officials say decision to partially close Canada-U.S. border is for the best

“I can’t stress it enough, we have to keep the supply chain open,” he said.

Health Minister Christine Elliott also said the province had ordered 300 ventilators, though the supply of machines is able to meet current demand.

Elliott also said auto parts manufacturers in the province are looking to be outfitted with tools needed to create ventilators.

Ontario saw its first coronavirus-related death in the province on Tuesday — a 77-year-old man from Barrie.

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