COVID-19 hospitalizations in Ontario went up more than 63 per cent over 4 weeks

TORONTO — New provincial data show COVID-19 hospitalizations in Ontario went up more than 63 per cent over the last four weeks.

A report released Thursday says the number of patients in intensive care due to the virus is expected to hit 200 next month and stay there for some time, which could lead to the cancellation of surgeries.

It also says deaths in long-term care homes are rising, even though the number of cases among staff and residents appears to be flattening.

This is the first time new projections have been released since the province sent Toronto and Peel Region into lockdown earlier this week.

Read more: Ontario reports 1,478 new coronavirus cases, 21 deaths

The report shows 70 per cent of new cases in Toronto, and 27 per cent of cases in Peel and Ottawa, cannot be linked to a source.

Twenty per cent of York’s new daily infections have no known epidemiological link.

The previous modelling, released two weeks ago, showed Ontario could see as many as 6,500 new daily cases of COVID-19 by mid-December unless steps were taken to limit the spread of the virus.

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It said 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.”

The latest data were released shortly after the province announced it is starting voluntary COVID-19 testing for asymptomatic students, faculty and staff in regions with high rates of transmission.

The expanded testing will be provided for four weeks in schools in Toronto, Peel and York regions, and Ottawa. Those who show symptoms or have been exposed to a COVID-19 case should continue to stay home and get tested at an assessment centre, the province said.

Read more: Ontario moves to cap delivery fees in COVID-19 hotspots where restaurants are takeout only

The province first announced the program this summer but it had not yet taken effect.

Ontario is reported 1,478 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, and 21 more deaths related to the virus.

Health Minister Christine Elliott said 572 of those cases are in Peel Region, and 356 are in Toronto. Both regions are currently in the “lockdown” stage of the province’s pandemic plan.

Today’s numbers show that 556 people are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 in the province, an increase of 33 since yesterday.

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