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Ontario reports more than 2,000 new COVID-19 cases for 6th straight day

Last Updated Dec 20, 2020 at 2:27 pm EDT

COVID-19 testing. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

The province of Ontario is reporting more than 2,000 cases for the sixth straight day as government officials prepare to introduce enhanced lockdown measures on Monday.

Provincial health officials confirmed 2,316 new cases on Sunday, a slight decline from the 2,357 cases reported the previous day.

The rolling seven-day average of new cases now stands at a record 2,249 as more than 15,700 new infections were reported this past week.

Toronto and Peel Region are responsible for 40 per cent of the new infections, with 486 and 468 cases respectively. York Region recorded a record 326 new cases on Sunday.

Premier Doug Ford has already confirmed that lockdown measures in both Toronto and Peel Region will be extended until January 4 and that Hamilton is set to join the grey-lockdown zone on Monday.

The premier is expected to announce additional measures at a 1 p.m. press conference on Monday after holding emergency meetings with health officials over the weekend.

An additional 25 people have died as a result of the virus, raising the provincial total to 4,150.

The province says it processed a record 69,412 tests in the last 24-hour period as the backlog fell to just more than 54,000.

Hospitalizations remained below 900 while the number of patients with the virus in ICU rose slightly to 261. Those patients on a ventilator also rose to 156.

An association of GTA hospitals has joined the Ontario Hospital Association and the Ontario Medical Association in calling for stronger lockdown measures, warning that a surge in cases following the holiday season is expected to make the situation even worse.

The group says frontline health care workers are stressed and their efforts to battle the pandemic are being overstretched and is reaching a level that is “simply not sustainable for much longer.”

“We are seeing increasing numbers of staff becoming ill and not able to work – both with COVID-19 and other illnesses. While we are coping and planning for redeployment, we are seeing more illness and stress and hearing about the toll this is taking on people’s families,” reads the statement.

“We recognize that lockdown measures are challenging for many members of our communities, but we cannot afford to put patients and health care workers at further risk.”