Provincial health officials recorded 1,723 new infections today, up from 1,707 recorded Tuesday and the 1,373 confirmed a week ago.
With more than 44,000 tests completed in the past 24 hours, the province’s positivity rate now stands at 4.7% including duplicates and test errors.
That number is down from 5.1% on Tuesday, but on par with the positivity rate at this point last week.
Of the new infections reported today, 410 were in Toronto, 500 in Peel Region, 196 in York Region, 124 in Durham Region and 103 in Waterloo.
Thirty-five COVID-19-related deaths were confirmed in the province today, a tie for the highest single-day death toll in Ontario during the second wave of the pandemic.
Provincial health officials say 22 of those deaths involve patients in long-term care homes.
The seven-day average exceeds 1,700
The seven-day moving average of new cases in Ontario has steadily increased over the past month and is now 1,719, down from 1,389 just a week ago.
The number of hospitalizations linked to the virus now stands at 656, but intensive care admissions have fallen by two to 183, according to data provided by the province.
Dr Michael Warner, medical director of intensive care at Michael Garron Hospital, told CP24 on Tuesday that some hospitals in the GTA were starting to see an increase in the number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care units (ICUs).
In York and Halton regions, he said, nearly 24% of all ICU patients are infected with COVID-19 and in some Toronto hospitals that number is closer by 40%.
Hospitals in Peel Region are starting to treat patients in “non-traditional” spaces due to the influx of COVID-19 patients, the region’s chief medical officer told CP24 on Wednesday.
Experts said the occupancy rate of more than 150 intensive care units in Ontario calls into question the ability of the health care system to keep up with scheduled surgeries and other elective procedures.
On Tuesday, Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott confirmed that some hospitals in the province’s COVID-19 hotspots, including the Scarborough General Hospital, have already been forced to cancel some surgeries and non-urgent procedures.
Elliott also said on Tuesday that officials planning the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines across Ontario are now talking directly to manufacturers of seven different candidate vaccines who have signed agreements with the federal government, including Pfizer, to get a better idea. when the province can expect to receive the first doses.
Elliott has previously said Ontario expects to receive 2.4 million combined doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines by March, a figure the federal government has not publicly confirmed.
None of these vaccines have received the green light from Health Canada, but Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine was approved for emergency use in the UK on Wednesday.
Elliott said the first shipment of vaccine will be used to immunize the province’s most vulnerable populations, including residents of long-term care homes.
Once priority groups are protected, widespread vaccine deployment will follow.
Speaking to CP24 on Wednesday morning, epidemiologist Dr Isaac Bogoch said that while the latest developments on the vaccine front are positive, he warned that even when a vaccine arrives in Canada, people should not expect to get things back to normal immediately.
“We’re so excited to get back to normal and get a shot and forget that all of this has happened before, but in all fairness we will continue to physically distance ourselves. We will still wear masks for much, but not all, of 2021, ”he said.
“As we see larger and larger segments of the population vaccinated, I think we will start to see some of the measures phased out. For example, I think we’ll probably start to see bigger crowds coming together. Maybe the border restrictions will loosen. ”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau previously told reporters he expected most Canadians who want to be vaccinated will be able to do so by September 2021.
New cases in the GTA:
Peel Region: 500
York Region: 196
Durham Region: 124
Halton Region: 45