Ontario reported 1,478 new cases of people with COVID-19 on Thursday and 21 deaths.
The number of daily new cases in the province has hovered between 1,200 and a high of 1,588 for the last 10 days as the province battles the second wave of the pandemic.
Most of the new cases reported Thursday were in the hotspots of Peel, with 572 cases, Toronto, with 356 cases, and York, with 111 cases.
The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 in the province rose to 556, an increase of 33 from the day before. Of those people, 151 are in intensive care and 105 are on a ventilator.
On Wednesday, the province reported 1,373 new infections and 35 new deaths from COVID-19.
Provincial public health authorities are expected to announce the latest projections about the trajectory of the virus at a news conference Thursday afternoon.
It will be the first time they have released such data since sending Toronto and Peel Region into lockdown earlier this week.
Two weeks ago, the province unveiled modelling that showed Ontario could see as many as 6,500 new daily cases of COVID-19 by mid-December unless steps are taken to limit the spread of the virus.
It indicated the province would reach 2,500 new daily cases by that time if the growth rate was at three per cent, or 6,500 if the growth rate was at five per cent.
At the time, Dr. Adalsteinn Brown, one of the experts behind the projections, said a five per cent growth rate was “slightly optimistic.”
Premier Doug Ford announced he would lower thresholds for imposing stricter COVID-19 measures under the province’s colour-coded restrictions system the following day.
Even if the new modelling includes encouraging news, it won’t alter guidance for holiday plans. Ontario residents have already been advised by both provincial and Ottawa public health authorities to celebrate Christmas and other holidays only with members of their own household this year.
“This is 2020 COVID pandemic (Christmas) and it’s going to be pretty memorable because it’s got to be different,” Ottawa Medical Officer of Health Vera Etches said. Wednesday “We’ve got to create new traditions and new approaches which are based on limiting our celebrations in person to the people we live with.”
While exceptions can be made for “one or two” single people — grandparents living alone, for example — she warned against travelling to other areas of the province where infections rate are higher or joining with different people every day.
Under the province’s colour-coded COVID-19 response guidelines, Ottawa is in the orange or “restrict” zone. That brings restrictions that include limits on the number of people allowed to dine inside at restaurants and to enter gyms, shopping malls and cinemas.
Toronto and Peel are in lockdown, which has closed indoor and outdoor dining, gyms and cinemas and limited “non-essential” retail stores to delivery and curbside pickup. No indoor gatherings are allowed with people outside the household in those regions, although those who live alone can have close contact with one other household.