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St. Mike's assessment centre data shows spike in recent positivity rates

Last Updated Sep 16, 2020 at 5:53 pm EDT

COVID-19 assessment centre. YOUTUBE/Unity Health Toronto

Toronto continues to be one of the hot spots when it comes to the recent spike in new cases of COVID-19 across the province and data from a downtown assessment centre shows just how profound the increase has been with recent positivity rates three-times the provincial average.

St. Michael’s Hospital’s assessment centre has seen a 60 per cent increase in people showing up to be tested the past couple of weeks on its peak days. The positivity rates of people getting tested has also increased significantly.

During the period of Sept. 6 to 12, the positivity rate of tests conducted jumped up to 2.2 per cent after sitting at 0.4 per cent over the past two months.

For comparison, the positivity rate across the province of Ontario was at 0.7 per cent over the same time period.

Dr. Eileen de Villa, Toronto’s medical officer of health, says the increase in case numbers is a clear sign that we are entering a resurgence.

“Our reproductive number is 1.2 – that means that each new case of COVID-19 infection is creating 1.2 further cases. That’s why we want to see that reproductive number below 1,” Dr. de Villa said at her daily briefing on Wednesday.

“We’re now six weeks into reopening in Toronto and a picture is emerging of infections in our city. In these last six weeks, approximately 50 per cent of COVID-19 infections are categorized as close contact, meaning as a result of exposure to someone whose infection is known – although it may not have been evident when they infected someone else.”

De Villa says they are also seeing patterns emerge that point to infections from smaller gatherings such as play dates and extended family get-togethers.

“We’re in a transition period as we approach the fall and winter months. We’re at a crossroads too. No one person will decide what happens next. It’s what we do together and what happens as a result.”

The recent spike in daily new cases has also prompted the Ontario government to pledge to lower the limits on social gatherings in an attempt to slow the increases.

Provincial health officials have attributed the spike in cases largely to people not following public health guidelines at social gatherings.

Premier Doug Ford’s office has confirmed the move but won’t say when those new guidelines will be released.

The current limit on social gatherings is 50 people indoors and 100 outdoors.