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Ontario has entered the third wave of COVID-19, as more transmissible virus variants account for nearly half of new cases, the province’s science advisers warned Tuesday.
Ontario’s COVID-19 Scientific Advisory Table said new data shows worrying variants are now driving the pandemic growth, accounting for 733 of the 1,489 total cases on March 15.
The group, which provides independent advice and analysis to the Progressive Conservative government, said growth was underway across the province.
“So here we are: Ontario’s third wave,” the group said on social media Tuesday. “Unfortunately, we are actually ‘all in the same boat’. Ontario is organized into 34 public health units; nearly two-thirds are currently experiencing exponential growth in (COVID-19). ”
The findings come a day after the province’s top doctor said Ontario may enter a third wave, but the scale is still developing.
“You can always tell you’re there after it’s over,” Dr David Williams said on Monday. “I would say we are in this base of a third wave. What this means, how big is it, remains to be determined. ”
The Ontario Hospital Association said on Monday it believed the province was now in a third wave, citing data from the science advisory group and saying the number of intensive care patients was on the rise.
“Strong support for public health measures is urgently needed to avoid saturation of hospitals,” the hospital group said on Twitter.
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The CEO of the Registered Nurses Association of Ontario said the government lifted a stay-at-home order too soon, allowing variants of the virus to spread.
Doris Grinspun said she fears the province must return to lockdown.
“We have to reduce the vaccine to 100% now because it is our saving grace,” she said. “We are slow on vaccines and we are quickly entering the third wave. It is a disaster that collides.
The new data comes a day after the province launched a new online booking portal and call center for the COVID-19 vaccine.
About 100,000 people aged 80 and over made their COVID-19 vaccine appointments on Monday despite technical issues with the website and long wait times to get to the call center.
Ontario reported 1,074 new cases of COVID-19 and 11 more deaths from the virus on Tuesday. More than 28,500 tests have been carried out.
Health Minister Christine Elliott said there were 313 new cases in Toronto, 199 in Peel Region and 101 in York Region.
An additional 51,579 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in Ontario since the last update.