Ontario reported 63 additional COVID-19 deaths, as hospitalizations continued to drop slowly from their January high, on Tuesday.
Alexandra Hilkene, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Health, said four of the deaths occurred on Monday, 14 on Sunday, and 20 on Saturday, with the rest occurring between January 28 and January 4.
COVID-19 has claimed the lives of 1,238 Ontario citizens in the last 30 days.
On Tuesday, three previous deaths were removed from the total after studies proved they were not caused by coronavirus infection.
The Ministry of Health said that 3,091 people were admitted to hospital with COVID-19 on Tuesday, down from 4,016 one week ago.
Of those, 568 were in intensive care on Tuesday, down from 608 one week ago. The number of ventilated patients increased by two to 349.
Ontario’s COVID-19 Science Advisory Table says it is likely hospitalizations will ‘rebound’ once the impact of loosened restrictions is felt.
Indoor dining, fitness activity and movie theatre operations resumed yesterday and are slated to move to full pre-pandemic capacity in 20 days.
“We’re ready to move forward,” Ontario Premier Doug Ford said of the reopening timetable. “But we have to do it cautiously. We can’t just jump into it and just open everything up tomorrow. We have to be very, very cautious.”
He said hospitals are still seeing staff absences and “pressure” due to COVID-19 hospitalizations but Health Minister Christine Elliott said the hospital system is “ready for whatever will happen as we move forward.”
UHN Infection Prevention and Control Director Dr. Susy Hota says there is a concern for her based on the fact the province is reopening with hospitals still under so much strain.
“The real question is now that we’re starting the reopening again, what’s the impact going to be, what’s the next two to four weeks going to look like, especially because we’re doing this at a point where we’re already quite high,” she told CP24. “We’re already at about 3,000 hospitalizations.”
While access to free PCR testing was drastically limited five weeks ago, the model released Tuesday says that based on wastewater surveillance data gathered across the province, between 1.5 and 4 million people in Ontario may have been infected with COVID-19 in the past 60 days.
Of those still eligible for PCR testing, provincial labs detected 2,622 new cases on Tuesday.
A total of 16,380 specimens were processed, generating a positivity rate of at least 16.2 per cent.
The Ministry of Health said 57,600 COVID-19 vaccine doses were administered on Monday, including 5,382 first doses, 12,073 second doses and 37,523 third doses.
84.5 percent of people in all age groups have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccination, 79.5 percent have received two doses, and 43.5 percent have received three doses.
Ontario’s scientific table recommended that the province aim for eight million third doses provided by Feb. 28 to avoid the worst of a resurgence in COVID-19 hospitalizations.
So far, 6.42 million third doses have been given out.