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Ontario reports 3,124 new COVID cases as daily counts continue to surge

Click to play video: 'Ontario distributing free take-home rapid COVID tests over holidays'
Ontario distributing free take-home rapid COVID tests over holidays
WATCH: Ontario distributing free take-home rapid COVID tests over holidays. – Dec 16, 2021

Ontario is reporting 3,124 new COVID cases on Friday, as daily positive infections continue to rise rapidly amid the highly contagious Omicron variant. The provincial case total now stands at 642,465.

For comparison, last Friday saw 1,453 new cases and the previous Friday saw 1,031.

Over the last three days, there were 2,421 new cases reported Thursday, 1,808 on Wednesday, and 1,429 on Tuesday. Friday’s count is the highest one-day total since May 8 when 3,193 new cases were recorded.

The most number of cases ever reported in a single day throughout the pandemic was on April 16 when there were 4,812 new cases amid the third wave when the province was under a strict lockdown and when a large portion of the population was still unvaccinated.

Read more: Ontario names locations to pick up free COVID-19 rapid antigen tests in Toronto-area

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However, as infections soar, patients with COVID in ICUs (intensive care units) have remained relatively stable but are overall on a slow rise. Experts have said it could take up to two weeks or more following a surge in new cases to see a sharper rise in hospitalizations/ICUs.

Of the 3,124 new cases recorded, the data showed 788 were unvaccinated people, 96 were partially vaccinated people, 2,120 were fully vaccinated people and for 130 people the vaccination status was unknown.

According to Friday’s report, 759 cases were recorded in Toronto, 294 in Ottawa, 215 in York Region, 209 in Peel Region, 205 in the Kingston area, and 194 in Halton Region. All other local public health units reported fewer than 150 new cases in the provincial report.

Deaths, vaccinations, recoveries, testing, 7-day average in Ontario

The death toll in the province has risen to 10,107 as five more deaths were reported.

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As of 8 p.m. on Thursday, there are more than 11.3 million people fully immunized with two doses, which is 87.8 per cent of the aged 12 and older population. First dose coverage stands at 90.4 per cent. There are more than 1.5 million Ontarians who have received a booster shot.

For young children aged five to 11, first dose coverage stands at 34.1 per cent — 367,772 doses out of just over 1 million eligible children.

Meanwhile, 616,566 Ontario residents were reported to have recovered from COVID-19, which is 96 per cent of known cases. Resolved cases increased by 1,392 from the previous day.

Active cases in Ontario now stand at 15,792 — up from the previous day when it was at 14,065, and is up from Dec. 10 when it was at 9,193. At the peak of the second wave coronavirus surge in January, active cases hit just above 30,000. In the third wave in April, active cases topped 43,000.

The seven-day average has now reached 1,914, a months-long high since late May as Ontario emerged from a devastating third wave. This is up from the week prior when it was 1,115. A month ago, the seven-day average was around 600.

The government said 51,636 tests were processed in the previous 24 hours. There are 37,855 tests currently under investigation.

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Test positivity hit 8.2 per cent — the highest seen since mid-May. Last week, test positivity was at 4.4 per cent.

Read more: Kingston, Ont. reaches highest COVID-19 rate in Canada due to Omicron spread

Hospitalizations in Ontario

Ontario reported 358 people in general hospital wards with COVID-19 (up by 30 from the previous day) with 157 patients in intensive care units (down by 8) and 139 patients in intensive care units on a ventilator (down by 8).

Ontario Health officials have recently said intensive care occupancy can hit between 250 or 300 patients before the health care system would be impacted and require ramping down some non-urgent surgeries and procedures.

In the third wave peak, which was the worst wave for hospitalizations, the province saw as many as 900 patients in ICUs with COVID and almost 2,400 in general hospital wards.

For those in general hospital wards with COVID, 116 were unvaccinated, 9 were partially vaccinated and 85 were fully vaccinated. For those in ICUs, 76 were unvaccinated while 5 were partially vaccinated and 33 were fully vaccinated.

Provincial officials noted this new dataset with vaccination status for hospitalizations will grow and improve over time as more information is collected. There may also be a discrepancy due to how and when the information for both is collected.

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Here is a breakdown of the total cases in Ontario by gender and age:

  • 321,212 people are male — an increase of 1,584 cases.
  • 318,954 people are female — an increase of 1,525 cases.
  • 19,097 people are under the age of four — an increase of 87 cases.
  • 39,107 people are 5 to 11 — an increase of 382 cases.
  • 57,113 people are 12 to 19 — an increase of 309 cases.
  • 239,059 people are 20 to 39 — an increase of 1,317 cases.
  • 178,554 people are 40 to 59 — an increase of 788 cases.
  • 82,439 people are 60 to 79 — an increase of 215 cases.
  • 26,982 people are 80 and over — an increase of 28 cases.
  • The province notes that not all cases have a reported age or gender.

Read more: Vaccines not enough to curb Omicron spread, stronger public measures needed: Ontario modelling

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Here is a breakdown of the total deaths related to COVID-19 by age:

  • Deaths reported in ages 19 and under: Seven
  • Deaths reported in ages 20 to 39: 112
  • Deaths reported in ages 40 to 59: 715
  • Deaths reported in ages 60 to 79: 3,334
  • Deaths reported in ages 80 and older: 5,938
  • The province notes there may be a reporting delay for deaths and data

Cases among students and staff at Ontario schools

Meanwhile, government figures show there are currently 1,236 out of 4,844 schools in Ontario with at least one COVID-19 case.

On Friday, Ontario reported 339 new COVID-19 cases in schools — with 285 among students, 48 among staff and 6 individuals were not identified. The data was collected between Wednesday afternoon and Thursday afternoon — a 24-hour period.

There are 3,044 active infections among both students and staff, compared with 2,864 active cases reported the previous day.

There are also 72 schools closed as a result of positive cases.

Cases, deaths and outbreaks in Ontario long-term care homes

According to the Ontario Ministry of Long-Term Care, there have been 3,831 deaths reported among residents and patients in long-term care homes across Ontario, which is an increase of two deaths since the previous day. Thirteen virus-related deaths in total have been reported among staff.

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There are 13 current outbreaks in homes, which is up by two from the previous day.

The ministry also indicated there are currently 22 active cases among long-term care residents and 24 active cases among staff — up by one and down by seven, respectively, in the last day.

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