Toronto is reporting nearly 800 new COVID-19 cases as the province’s death toll from the virus topped 4,000 on Wednesday.
Provincial health officials logged 2,139 new cases of the novel coronavirus and 43 more deaths on Wednesday, a notable increase compared to the 20 fatalities recorded on Tuesday.
The previous single-day high for deaths in the province during the second wave was on Dec. 10 when 45 people died.
At least 4,035 people infected with COVID-19 have now died in Ontario.
Of today’s new fatalities, 33 victims were 80 years old and over, six were between 60 and 79 years old, three were between 40 and 59 years old, and one was between 20 and 39.
Twenty-two of the fatalities were long-term care home residents, compared to only one a day ago.
There are currently 135 long-term care homes with an active outbreak of the virus across Ontario.
The province reported a record 2,275 new infections on Tuesday, due in part to a later cut-off time for when local public health units could submit their data to the province. The previous single-day record was on Dec. 10 when 1,983 cases were reported.
A total of 1,940 new cases were recorded on Monday, 1,677 on Sunday and 1,873 on Saturday.
According to the Ministry of Health’s data, more than 49,100 tests were processed in the last 24 hours, up from 39,566 a day ago.
There are currently 65,597 tests under investigation.
The seven-day rolling average now stands at 1,962 compared to 1,839 a week ago today.
Provincial health officials say there are 2,043 more recoveries from the virus in Ontario and 17,084 active cases.
Most of the new cases continue to be in the Greater Toronto Area, as Toronto, Peel Region and York are currently in a lockdown to curb the spread of the virus.
“Locally, there are 780 new cases in Toronto, 528 in Peel, 148 in York Region, 143 in Durham and 111 in Windsor-Essex County,” Health Minister Christine Elliott tweeted on Wednesday.
Toronto recorded 711 new infections a day ago. The previous single-day high in Toronto was on Dec. 1 when the city logged 727 cases.
Elsewhere in the GTA, Durham Region recorded 143 new cases, up from 92 a day ago, while Halton Region logged 55 new cases, down from 65 on Tuesday.
To date, there have been 146,535 cases of COVID-19 in Ontario since January and more than 125,400 recoveries.
Hospitals prepare surge capacity plans
The number of patients hospitalized for the virus continues to climb across the province, threatening the health-care system’s ability to effectively accommodate all patients.
There are currently 932 people hospitalized with the virus compared to 921 a day ago. Of those patients, 256 are in intensive care units and 157 are breathing with the help of a ventilator.
On Tuesday, the CEO of Ontario Health sent out a memo ordering hospitals in the province to prepare to activate their surge capacity plans within 48 hours in response to the spike in cases.
President Matt Anderson said the province has entered a “critical phase” of the pandemic where there is widespread community spread.
The memo calls for regions in the grey and red levels of the province’s tiered COVID-19 response framework to ensure at least 10 to 15 per cent surge capacity of staffed adult inpatient beds for COVID-19 within 48 hours.
In a statement from The Ontario Hospital Association, they say the current situation is “far more serious” than what occurred in the first wave.
“In late December and into January, hospitals appear increasingly likely to face a wave of seriously ill COVID patients that will almost certainly disrupt other acute care services and operations. The threat to Ontario’s hospitals risks being even worse if people gather in person over the holidays,” the statement reads.
Infectious diseases specialist Dr. Isaac Bogoch spoke to CP24 this morning and reiterated that the health-care system won’t be able to “cope with the influx of COVID-19 patients and simultaneously care for everybody else.”
“In these high-burden areas they’ve got to make space for more and more and more patients because we are seeing very high rates of COVID-19 in the community and of course many people land in hospital, sadly some people land in the ICU and some people die,” Bogoch said.
Bogoch added that although Ontarians have started to receive COVID-19 vaccines this week the impact won’t be seen for some time.
“While vaccines are really truly on the horizon it’s going to be a few months before we really start to ramp up those vaccine programs to get everybody safe. We’re measuring that in months and quite frankly this hospital capacity issue is a problem from about a month ago and is continuing to be a problem and is expected to be a problem moving forward as well at least through January when we’re probably going to see a surge in cases related to the holiday season,” he said.