Ontario’s top doctor speaks out as province reports 538 new COVID-19 cases, backlog of tests hits record high


Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams provides update on COVID-19 starting at 3 p.m.CBC News is broadcasting the press conference live above.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford called the province’s updated COVID-19 forecast of around 1,000 new cases a day by October as a “wake-up call” but announced no restrictions additional Thursday.

“Yesterday’s modeling data was a red flag,” Ford said at a press conference. “Please don’t let your guard down. ”

Speaking to reporters, Ford announced that the province would give a temporary salary increase to personal support workers, with an additional $ 3 per hour for 50,000 PSW in long-term care facilities, 38,000 in home care and 34,000 in children’s services. PSWs working in hospitals will receive an increase of $ 2 / hr.

The increase takes effect from October 1 to March 2021, the prime minister said, calling the $ 461 million investment “historic.”

The pay rise is a temporary decision, although Ford has hinted that longer-term support may be on the way. The government says the measure will be reviewed regularly and could last until March 31, 2021.

Asked about the possibility of further restrictions to curb the spread of the virus, Williams said such measures would be less of a step back to Stage 2 of the province’s plan to reopen and more of a “targeted” approach to focus on sensitive areas.

As to whether restaurants might see other limitations on indoor dining, Ford replied, “not at this time.”

WATCH | Ontario Temporarily Increases Salaries for Personal Support Workers:

Saying Ontario Must Stabilize Its Human Support Workforce, Premier Doug Ford Announced $ 461 Million To Temporarily Increase Hourly Wages For Over 147,000 Personal Support Workers , with immediate effect. 2:54

Ontario reported 538 more cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, as the backlog of tests awaiting completion in the province reached a record high of more than 82,000.

Almost 70% of new confirmed cases are in the Greater Toronto Area. The city of Toronto recorded the highest number of cases with 229. Meanwhile, the regions of Peel and York have reported 101 and 43, respectively.

Ottawa has also confirmed 66 other infections of the novel coronavirus.

Other areas with a double-digit increase include:

  • Durham Region: 14
  • Simcoe Muskoka: 14
  • Region of Waterloo: 13

Health Minister Christine Elliott said about 60% of cases in today’s update are people under the age of 40. The news comes a day after provincial health officials said an increase in infections among young people was starting to “spill over” into older demographics, a reality that could strain hospitals across the country. province in the coming weeks.

Sixty-five of the new cases are linked to the school, according to the ministry, 29 students, 15 staff and 21 people classified as “unidentified persons”. There have been a total of 448 school-related cases in Ontario, with 307 of the province’s 4,828 public schools – or about 6.36% – reporting at least one confirmed case.

The government changed part of its back-to-school policy on Thursday.

Ontario children no longer need a COVID-19 test to return to school after recovering from a runny nose or nasal congestion, but they should stay home as long as they are symptoms persist, according to the latest guidelines from the Department of Health.

The Ontario laboratory network processed 39,646 test samples yesterday. The backlog of tests awaiting completion has risen to more than 82,000, by far the largest since the outbreak began in late January.

The province’s efforts to increase testing capacity come as the percentage test positive rate is steadily increasing. The province-wide average is currently around 1.75%, but in areas like Toronto and Peel, it is approaching nearly 3%, health officials said this week. This means that the new coronavirus is spreading there more widely and faster in recent weeks, they explained.

The number of people in Ontario hospitals with confirmed cases of COVID-19 also continued its upward trend, and is now 162 – 12 more than in yesterday’s report and nearly double the figure from just over a week ago. Thirty-six of these patients are being treated in intensive care and 17 are on ventilators.

The official death toll in the province has risen by three, and now stands at 2851. A CBC News tally, based on information provided directly by public health units, puts the current toll at 2,884.

Ontario has now registered a total of 52,248 confirmed cases of COVID-19, of which about 85% are considered resolved. Another 515 were marked resolved in today’s report.

There are currently some 4,975 confirmed and active cases of the disease across the province, the most since April 30.


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