Ontario reported 20 net new COVID-19 deaths, while hospitalizations looked to be leveling out and a new investigation indicated that 489 of the province’s total COVID-19 deaths were likely not caused by the virus, on Thursday.
According to the Ministry of Health, 14 of the new deaths occurred within the last 30 days, while six others occurred earlier.
Residents of long-term care facilities were engaged in two of the deaths.
Using new methodology where deaths where a clear alternative cause, likely not in any way brought about by a COVID-19 infection are removed from the total, the province says it has suffered 12,149 deaths from COVID-19 since March 2020, down from the cumulative total of 12,638 people who died after testing positive for COVID-19 reported on Thursday.
Yesterday, Chief Medical Officer of Health for Ontario Dr. Kieran Moore announced a plan to end masking in most public indoor spaces and schools by March 21, along with greatly relaxed isolation rules and no more active symptom screening.
It appears most local medical officers of health in Ontario, including those in Toronto and Durham Region, will go along with that deadline, while York Region’s local medical officer of health Dr. Barry Pakes told CP24 on Wednesday night that “it would have been reasonable to wait a little bit longer” than March 21.
The move is also opposed by most epidemiologists in the province, as well as Mississauga’s mayor, Ontario’s school principals and the teachers’ unions.
Moore said individual choices on when to wear masks must be respected by all, and also suggested province may see a slight temporary increase in infection and hospitalizations as a result.
There were 742 patients in hospital due to COVID-19 infection across the province on Thursday, down only nine from one day prior.
Of those, 244 were in intensive care, an increase of three from Wednesday, and 130 were breathing with the hep of a ventilator.
Of the 2,125 new cases detected though limited PCR testing on Thursday, the Ministry of Health said 209 cases involved unvaccinated people, 47 involved partially vaccinated people, 1,760 involved people with at least two doses of vaccine and 109 involved people whose vaccination status was not known.
Provincial labs processed 14,695 test specimens in the previous period, generating a positivity rate of 11.2 per cent.
The Ministry of Health said 14,705 COVID-19 vaccinations were completed on Wednesday.
Of those, 1,690 were first doses, 4,072 were second doses and 7,222 were third doses.
Across all age groups, 85.2 per cent of all Ontario residents have at least one shot of a COVID-19 vaccine, 81.6 per cent have two doses and 47.8 per cent have three doses.