As of Friday, 1,031 new cases of COVID-19 were reported in the province, the first time the daily tally has exceeded 1,000 since May 30. Almost all of the new cases have been confirmed to be the Delta variant.
While the high number may seem alarming, Health Minister Christine Elliott said it was not unexpected.
Ontario Reports Over 1,000 New COVID-19 Cases For First Time Since Late May
“We predicted, when we drew up the roadmap for the reopening, that there would be an increase in the number of cases,” she told a press conference in Ottawa.
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“But I think the other really important factor is that even as the cases increase – which is primarily the Delta variant at this point – our hospitalization rates remain low and our intensive care units remain low. “
As of Friday, 286 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 in the province, including 146 in intensive care units.
Meanwhile, Toronto Public Health said it was investigating the cases of three city residents who tested positive for the worrying variant of Omicron. He said two people had recently returned from Nigeria and one from Switzerland.
Omicron variant detected in 3 Toronto residents
“These are the first cases of the omicron variant of concern that have been confirmed by whole genome sequencing reported in Toronto,” the city said in a statement.
York Region reported its first case of the Omicron variant, a child under 12 who returned from a southern African country on November 22 and has been in isolation since.
The child’s close contacts also isolate, York Public Health said.
Durham Region confirmed its second variant case, a day after reporting its first.
York Region Confirms First Omicron Variant Case Of COVID-19 In Child Under 12
Toronto Public Health said Durham’s second case is linked to an outbreak at the Toronto East Detention Center, which was declared on Thursday out of caution after one person tested positive for the virus.
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The Toronto Public Health Unit was also investigating a suspected case of the Omicron variant on Friday in a restaurant worker who public health officials said recently traveled to South Africa. He was asking customers at Piccolo Caffe E Vino restaurant who may have been exposed to the employee to get tested for COVID-19.
Scientists have said the Omicron variant may be more contagious than other strains of COVID-19, although they say they need more information before they are certain.
The National Advisory Committee on Immunization released updated recommendations for booster shots of the COVID-19 vaccine on Friday after a federal request for guidance in light of the new variant, saying it is advisable for anyone aged 50 and over to obtain one.
This matches Ontario’s announcement on Thursday that anyone 50 and over would be eligible to book a booster starting December 13.
“We take our approach to recall very seriously,” Elliott said on Friday.
NACI has also strengthened its recommendation for several other groups and now strongly suggests recalls for people who have received a full set of Oxford-AstraZeneca or Janssen vaccines, those in First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities or those in First Nations communities. Nations, as well as frontline health workers.
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NACI also suggested that a booster dose could be offered to people aged 18 to 49 at least six months after receiving their first two doses.
The province said it plans to expand eligibility further to age groups next month.
Provincial data shows that 84.2 percent of Ontarians aged five and over have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and 80.5 percent have received two.
It also shows that 531 of Friday’s new cases were in people who were not fully vaccinated, while 58 have unknown vaccination status and 442 are fully vaccinated.
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