TORONTO — Ontario could see more than 9,000 new cases of COVID-19 per day by the end of the year, according to new modelling.
The provincial government released the updated projections during a news conference held on Thursday afternoon.
The modelling suggests that if COVID-19 cases grow at a rate of three per cent, Ontario will record more than 4,000 cases per day by Dec. 30.
But, if cases grow at a rate of five per cent, Ontario could see more than 9,000 cases per day by that date.
Cases of the novel coronavirus in Ontario have been growing at a rate on average of 4.5 per cent over the past 14 days.
Also under the five per cent growth scenario, Ontario could have more than 300 COVID-19 patients in the intensive care unit (ICU) by mid-December.
According to the provincial government, when there are less than 150 COVID-19 patients being treated in the ICU, the province can “maintain non-COVID capacity and all scheduled surgeries.”
Once that number rises above 150, it becomes harder to support non-COVID-19 needs, the government said. Once it exceeds 350 people, it becomes “impossible” to handle.
There are currently 151 COVID-19 patients in Ontario ICUs, according to the province’s data.
The new projections for the spread of the disease come after Toronto and Peel – two of the biggest COVID-19 hot spots in the province – went into lockdown earlier this week.
The province released the last set of projections two weeks ago. That modelling showed that Ontario could see as many as 6,500 new COVID-19 cases per day by mid-December if additional health measures were not put into effect.
The following day, Premier Doug Ford announced he would lower thresholds for imposing stricter measures under the province’s colour-coded COVID-19 framework.
Furthermore, on Wednesday, Ford detailed the province’s guidelines for the upcoming holiday season. He urged residents to refrain from hosting large parties and instead only celebrate with those you live with or with one additional household if you live alone.
Speaking at a news conference held just before Thursday’s modelling was released, Ford said “we can’t let our guard down for a second.”
“I’m concerned. I’m still concerned, concerned that the numbers are going to continue rising,” he said. “We have to be vigilant and we have to really focus on the areas that we see the outbreaks – be it in Peel, in Toronto in York, we have to knuckle down and get through this. It’s absolutely critical.”
On Thursday, 1,478 new cases of the novel coronavirus were confirmed along with 21 more deaths.
The total number of lab-confirmed cases in Ontario is now 109,361, including 3,575 deaths and 92,915 recoveries.
The current seven-day average for number of cases reported is 1,427.