Ontario revealed over 900 new COVID-19 infections and eight new virus-related deaths as the ministry prepares to expand booster vaccination eligibility for more Ontarians on Thursday.
Officials from the province’s health department reported 959 new cases, up from 780 on Wednesday and 748 a week ago.
On Sunday, 964 new instances were reported, followed by 788 new cases on Monday, and 687 new cases on Tuesday.
During the fourth wave of the epidemic, the seven-day rolling average has continued to rise, reaching 851 on Thursday, up from 692 a week ago.
Among the latest cases, 446 of the individuals are unvaccinated, 23 have received one dose of a vaccine, 429 are fully vaccinated and 61 have an unknown vaccination status.
Unvaccinated individuals represent 23.5 per cent of Ontario’s total population and 47 per cent of the cases logged today.
As of Dec. 1, 90 per cent of people 12 years and older in Ontario had received one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and over 87 per cent had received two doses and are considered fully vaccinated, according to the Ministry of Health.
Children between five and 11 years old in Ontario started receiving Pfizer’s shot last week, but provincial data on this age group’s vaccination status is not yet available.
Another 770 people recovered from the virus in the past 24 hours, resulting in 6,932 active cases across the province.
All of the deaths reported today occurred in the last month and one death was removed from the total death toll today due to data clean-up, the ministry said.
The province’s virus-related death toll stands at 10,012.
Ontario labs processed over 38,400 tests in the past 24 hours, producing a positivity rate of 2.9 per cent, compared to 2.6 per cent a week ago, the ministry said.
The public health units that recorded the most new cases today include Toronto (118), Windsor-Essex (91), Peel Region (75) and Simcoe Muskoka (75).
There are 291 people in Ontario hospitals with the virus and 155 in intensive care units, according to the ministry. Four of Ontario’s ICU patients are transfers from Saskatchewan.
Health Minister Christine Elliott tweeted on Thursday that 129 patients in the ICU are not fully vaccinated or have an unknown vaccination status and 26 are fully vaccinated.
Earlier this week, Ontario’s COVID-19 Science Advisory Table released a report that said the province’s health-care system wouldn’t be able to accommodate the influx of critically ill patients it saw in the third wave due to “worsening staffing shortages” and “worker burnout.”
“I think the bottom line is basically, you know, we’re not robots. We are people, meaning even if we have enough ICU beds, we need nurses and physicians to look after patients in these beds and people are burned out,” Dr. Peter Jüni, the table’s scientific director, told CP24 on Thursday morning.
“If we would go back to what we had just in the third wave we probably wouldn’t be able to cope with it,” he added.
During the third wave last spring, ICU occupancy hit upwards of 900 beds across Ontario.
Jüni said in order to prevent the health-care system from being overwhelmed again, eligible Ontarians must get vaccinated as soon as possible.
“Get vaccinated, get the third dose now. This is to be considered a three-dose vaccine. We need this protection at the population level of every single person as well, because we don’t want you to end up on our ICUs,” he said.
The latest numbers come as the province’s top doctor is set to announce an expansion of booster shot eligibility on Thursday.
Currently, third doses are available to individuals aged 70 and older, health-care workers, people who received two doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine or other viral vector vaccines, select immunocompromised individuals and all Indigenous Peoples in the province.