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Hospitalizations climb as Ontario's new COVID-19 cases above 2,000 for 6th straight day

Last Updated Mar 30, 2021 at 12:54 pm EDT

A woman wearing a protective face mask walks past St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto on Jan. 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS IMAGES/Rachel Verbin THE CANADIAN PRESS IMAGES/Rachel Verbin

Ontario reported more than 2,000 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday for the sixth day in a row, as the number of deaths and hospitalizations continued to rise.

Another 14 people have died as a result of the virus, raising the death toll to 7,351.

Health officials said there were 2,336 new infections, a rise from 2,094 cases on Monday. Toronto recorded the highest number of new cases with 727, followed by Peel Region with 727, York Region with 229 and 194 in Durham Region.

The seven-day rolling average of cases rose to 2,207, as the number of cases over the past seven days surpassed the 15,000-mark to 15,451.

More than 36,000 tests were completed over the past 24 hours with a positivity rate of 6.2 per cent, an increase from 6.1 per cent the day before. It is the highest positivity rate since late January.

The total number of patients being treated in hospital grew by 249 to 1,090. Of that total, 387 people are in the ICU and 249 are in the ICU on a ventilator.

Health Minister Christine Elliott said Tuesday that the province has built-in the capacity needed “in order to make sure that everyone that needs to be in hospital will be treated.”

However, as the number of hospitalizations rise, concerns have been raised over Ontario’s dwindling supply of ICU beds amid the third wave of the pandemic.

At the end of last week, 400 ICU beds were occupied with COVID-19 patients. Ontario has approximately 2,300 total ICU beds but around 1,400 are occupied with non-COVID patients, leaving about 900 beds left.

Meanwhile, the Ontario Hospital Association (OHA) said intensive care units across the province are seeing younger patients, with more severe cases of COVID-19.

The province continues to see an upward trend of cases of the more contagious variants of concern (VOC), which are predominately of the variant first reported in the United Kingdom. An increase of 65 VOC cases pushed the total to 1,959, and more than 90 per cent (1,800) of those cases are of the U.K. variant.

An additional 70,645 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine were given since the previous daily update for a total of 2,102,380 doses administered overall. More than 313,000 Ontarians have been fully vaccinated.

As more Ontarians continue to get their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, the National Advisory Committee on Immunizations recommended against using the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine for anyone under the age of 55.

Elliott said the province — which has only used the vaccine for those aged 60 and older — was “pausing” plans to administer it to younger groups.

RELATED: Third COVID-19 wave will lead to difficult weeks ahead for Ontario hospitals: OHA

The health minister’s office said 40 per cent of adults aged 75 to 79 have received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine since appointments opened for that age group across the province last week. Also, 77 per cent of residents 80 and older have received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Another 1,477 people have recovered from the virus since Monday, but the daily cases have continued to outpace the number of recovered cases in recent days.

Ontario has reported 347,570 cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic started last March, and of that total, 320,409 cases have been resolved.

With files from The Canadian Press