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Coronavirus: Latest developments in the Greater Toronto Area on Dec. 31

Click to play video: 'New Year’s Eve celebrations look different as 2020 comes to an end' New Year’s Eve celebrations look different as 2020 comes to an end
WATCH ABOVE: The world is celebrating the end of a long and trying year a little differently because of the pandemic. – Dec 31, 2020

Here are the latest developments on the coronavirus pandemic in the Greater Toronto Area for Thursday.

Finance minister resigns after Caribbean vacation amid pandemic

Ontario Finance Minister Rod Phillips has resigned from his position in cabinet after returning home from a personal trip to the Caribbean during the coronavirus pandemic.

Premier Doug Ford released a statement Thursday, just hours after Phillips arrived back in Canada, saying he had accepted the minister’s resignation.

“At a time when the people of Ontario have sacrificed so much, today’s resignation is a demonstration that our government takes seriously our obligation to hold ourselves to a higher standard,” Ford said.

Read more: Ontario finance minister resigns after highly criticized Caribbean vacation

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Click to play video: '‘A dumb mistake,’ Ontario finance minister Rod Phillips says upon return from vacation' ‘A dumb mistake,’ Ontario finance minister Rod Phillips says upon return from vacation
‘A dumb mistake,’ Ontario finance minister Rod Phillips says upon return from vacation – Dec 31, 2020

35 child-care programs approved in Toronto for essential workers

The City of Toronto says 35 child-care programs have been approved for essential workers for Jan. 4 to 8, 2021.

That week, elementary students will be participating in remote learning as part of the provincewide shutdown.

A list of the workers eligible for the provincially funded child-care services can be found here.

Tory again asks residents to stay home for New Year’s Eve

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Toronto Mayor John Tory issued a statement on Thursday again asking residents to stay home for New Year’s Eve.

“Each day, hundreds of people in the City of Toronto become infected with the COVID-19 virus. Dozens of them lose their lives. Today is no exception,” Tory said.

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“I really hope this New Year’s Eve is a night when the streets are largely empty of cars and people, and the transit system is carrying only essential workers.”

Hospitals facing added pressure with more COVID-19 patients

Hospitals are facing added pressure with COVID-19 hospitalizations at an all-time high in Ontario.

Provincial figures showed there are 1,235 people hospitalized with the virus (up by 58), which is the most since the beginning of the pandemic.

There are 337 people in intensive care (up by 14) and 210 on a ventilator (up by six).

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In a statement, the University Health Network (UHN) said almost 25 per cent of its intensive care capacity is devoted to COVID-19 patients currently.

“It is likely that as the cases continue to rise, the percentage of ICU capacity will also continue to rise,” UHN said.

A statement from Michael Garron Hospital said they continue to monitor ICU capacity daily, sometimes hourly.

“This morning we were at capacity, meaning all available and staffed beds were full, however we did not have to cancel any elective surgeries due to ICU availability,” the statement said.

“We continue to work with our partner hospitals in the GTA and have accepted patients from other regions when critical needs arise for ICU beds.”

Trillium Health Partners (THP) said their hospitals continue to be “challenged by rising COVID-19 hospitalizations” and added that there are now caring for more critical care inpatients than the first wave.

THP’s critical care capacity is at 87 per cent, with overall hospital capacity at 98 per cent.

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Coronavirus: People flying into Canada will soon be facing tough new measures – Dec 30, 2020

Status of cases in the GTA

Ontario reported a total of 3,328 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday.

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Of those:

  • 888 were in Toronto
  • 431 were in Peel Region
  • 418 were in York Region
  • 114 were in Durham Region
  • 79 were in Halton Region

Ontario reports record number of cases

Ontario reported 3,328 new cases of the novel coronavirus Thursday, bringing the total number of cases in the province to 182,159.

It marks the largest single-day increase in cases to date for the province, ahead of Wednesday’s total of 2,923.

Fifty-six additional deaths were also announced, bringing the provincial death toll to 4,530.

Read more: Ontario reports over 3,300 new coronavirus cases, setting single-day record

— With files from Alexandra Mazur

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