Prime Minister Doug Ford is holding an update on COVID-19 at 13:00 in Queen’s Park.
CBC News carries the news conference live above.
Ontario reported 1,958 more COVID-19 cases on Monday as experts leading the province’s vaccination campaign summarized how they responded to delays in delivery of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
New cases include 727 in Toronto, 375 in Peel District and 157 in York Region. They come a year later The first confirmed infection of the novel coronavirus in Canada was found in a patient in Toronto.
Other public health units that saw double digit increases yesterday were:
- Windsor-Essex: 85
- Niagara District: 82
- Durham Area: 62
- Hamilton: 55
- Halton Area: 54
- Ottawa: 51
- Middlesex-London: 46
- Simcoe Muskoka: 41
- Waterloo Area: 39
- Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph: 35
- Huron-Perth: 29
- Southwest: 28
- Chatham-Kent: 22
- Lambton: 19
- Eastern Ontario: 11
- Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge: 11
(Note: All figures used in this story are on the Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 control panel or Daily Epidemiological Summary. The number of cases for any region may differ from that reported by the local public health unit, as local units report the figures at different times.)
It was the least number of new infections recorded in a single day in about a week. The seven-day average of daily cases continued to decline steadily to 2,371, the lowest level seen since December 30, 2020. It has been in a bearish trend since its 3.555 peak on January 11.
In particular, however, Ontario’s network of laboratories processed only 35,968 test samples for the virus, despite a daily capacity of more than 70,000. Collectively, they reported a 5.5 percent test positivity rate.
In today’s report, 2,448 cases were marked as resolved. There are currently 23,620 confirmed active infections across the province, lower than a high of 30,000 earlier this month.
According to the state, there were 1,398 people with COVID-19 in hospitals, but as often happens on weekends, about 10 percent of hospitals did not provide data. While a total of 397 patients were being treated in the intensive care unit, 283 patients needed a ventilator to breathe.
Public health units recorded 43 more deaths with COVID-19, bringing Ontario’s official death toll to 5,846.
Meanwhile, at a media briefing held this morning, members of Ontario’s vaccine distribution task force said the state would delay initial doses for healthcare workers and primary caregivers due to the shortage of the Pfizer product.
Instead, current vaccine doses will be transferred only to those living in long-term care and at-risk nursing homes and First Nations seniors living in aged care settings. The aim is to give the first dose of vaccine to those who enter one of these groups by February 5, 10 days before the first planned.
Primary caregivers as well as health workers in the long-term care sector will be vaccinated with residents in the early stages of the province’s spread. Officials said that due to delays in expected shipments of the Pfizer vaccine, the focus in the coming weeks will only be those with the highest risk of severe illness or death.
The change means that in other settings, such as those who directly care for patients in hospitals, frontline healthcare professionals will have to wait longer for vaccines than originally planned.
“While we speed up the vaccinations for the most vulnerable, we must ensure that we can give them a second dose,” Prime Minister Doug Ford said at a press conference on Monday.
“Delivery delays are now forcing us to be careful and prudent.”
State officials also said there was uncertainty about expected shipments of the Pfizer vaccine on February 8 and February 15. The federal government has not yet determined how many doses Ontario should expect to receive during this period. Provide a detailed time frame for when these shots will take place.
In addition, all 34 public health units of Ontario are expected to have vaccines for priority groups by the end of this week. As of this morning, there were 14 health units that have not received any doses for administration so far.
The state announced on Sunday that it delivered 5,537 doses of the vaccine. While a total of 286,110 shots were shot, a second dose was given to 71,256 people.
“As soon as the deliveries are certain … it will be full road ahead,” Ford said.
“We hope that anyone who wants to get vaccinated by summer will be able to get vaccinated.”
100,000 students returning to school
Schools in seven public health units in Southern Ontario reopened for face-to-face classes today.
Education Minister Stephen Lecce said this means that 100,000 students will return to class for the first time since the winter break.
In areas where schools are reopening, the state is implementing more safety measures, including requiring students from grade 1 to grade 3 to wear masks indoors and outdoors when physical distance is not possible.
It also brings the feature of “targeted asymptomatic testing” in these regions.
Although more than a month has passed since students in Southern Ontario arrived in class, classes continued in the northern part of the state on January 11.
The state government said the chief health officer was closely monitoring the COVID-19 situation in public health units, where schools were closed to decide when it was safe to reopen.
But the state said it would not happen in five hotspot areas – Windsor-Essex, Peel, York, Toronto, and Hamilton – until at least February 10.
The public health units where schools reopened today were:
- Gray Bruce
- Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge
- Hastings and Prince Edward Counties
- Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington
- Leeds, Grenville and Lanark
- Renfrew County