Along with 43 new deaths — the most Ontario has recorded since May 12 — the Ministry of Health reported 390 new cases of COVID-19 in its latest 24-hour stretch, setting its total case count at 23,774.
Ontario completed 7,382 tests in that timeframe, which marks the third straight day that health officials haven’t reached their goal of at least 16,000 a day. The province also has its eyes set on ramping up testing to 20,000 a day.
“It kind of shocked me too. But in saying that, we have a strong plan to ramp up testing,” said Premier Ford Doug on the province’s low numbers.
“We’re watching the trends like a hawk right now…We’re watching the rate of the spread. We’re watching closely for any sudden surges or flare-ups…We won’t hesitate to roll things back if necessary.”
This isn’t the first time that Ford has raised concerns about Ontario’s testing efforts. In early May, he told health officials to start “picking up your socks and start doing testing” after they failed to meet expectations.
This time, his plea comes after Ontario just started the first stage of its reopening plan. On Tuesday, the province allowed construction, certain health and medical services, recreational and seasonal activities, and some household and animal services to resume.
“We can’t open things up to stage two until we can fully assess what the effects of stage one are on the community,” Health Minister Christine Elliott said. “So testing becomes all the more important. And we do have a plan to ramp it up considerably.”
It’s not clear what’s behind the low testing outputs, but health officials have pointed to multiple factors; the Victoria Day long weekend might have had an impact on the system; all testing of long-term care residents and staff has been completed; and the province “can’t force” people to be tested, said Ontario’s chief medical officer of health David Williams.
“We do want to increase our testing, and we do want to use that to drive our overall knowledge and base of the ongoing transmission within the province of Ontario,” Williams said, while nothing that the province’s daily increase in cases haven’t “come down as quickly as [he] would like.”
The 390 new cases set a positive test rate of 5.3 per cent, which is the second-highest Ontario has recorded in May, just behind Tuesday’s 7.3 per cent mark.
Among the province’s total cases are 18,190 people who have recovered (up by 292 since Tuesday), setting a recovery rate of 76.5 per cent. There are four additional patients now in hospital, for a total of 991 but there are seven less people in ICU (160), and 120 who require a ventilator (down by three).
Around Ontario, there are 183 outbreaks among LTCs, down by seven since Tuesday, according to the Ministry of Long-Term Health.
In those facilities, 1,611 staff members are currently infected with COVID-19 (a decrease of four), while among residents there are 2,563 infected (an increase of 25) and 1,427 who have passed away (an increase of 19). Five staff members have also died after contracting the virus.