For the seventh day in a row, Ontario reported more than 2,000 new cases of COVID-19, as the number of patients in intensive care units (ICU) reached the highest number since the pandemic began last year.
Health officials said another 15 people have died as a result of the virus, pushing the provincial death toll to 7,366.
Critical Care Services Ontario, which tracks hospitalizations in the province, stated in its report Wednesday that 421 patients are currently in the ICU with a COVID-19-related critical illness, with 32 people being admitted in the past 24 hours.
421 patients now in ICU with COVID related critical illness on a total census of 1,822. 32 new admissions yesterday. This is the highest number of COVID patients in critical care at one time since the pandemic began. #onhealth #onpoli pic.twitter.com/jHk5m2rhV0
— Anthony Dale (@AnthonyDaleOHA) March 31, 2021
In its daily update, the province said 1,111 people are currently being treated in hospital overall.
There were 2,333 new infections on Wednesday, a slight drop from 2,336 cases reported the day before. Toronto had the most number of cases with 785, followed by 433 in Peel Region, 222 in York Region, 153 in Hamilton, 124 in Ottawa, and 120 in Durham Region.
More than 52,532 tests were completed over the past 24-hours and the province reported a positivity rate of 4.8 per cent, a decrease from 6.2 per cent the previous day.
The latest case count raised the seven-day rolling average of cases to 2,316, and the number of cases over the past seven days grew to 16,213.
With Easter approaching and cases surging, Premier Doug Ford said he will make an announcement Thursday about a potential lockdown, telling the public to “stay tuned.”
On Tuesday, Ford said he is “extremely concerned” about the rising numbers and warned Ontarians not to make plans for Easter.
“Everything is on the table right now, so folks, be prepared, I am asking you don’t make plans for Easter,” the premier said. “I won’t hesitate to lock things down if we have to. I did it before, I’ll do it again.”
The latest report from the province’s COVID-19 Science Advisory Table showed that variants of concern (VOC) have sent more Ontarians to the ICU, and that people infected with the variants were more likely to be hospitalized and die.
The advisory group also said in its report that as of March 28, variants comprised 67 per cent of all infections, and the B.1.1.7 variant that was first detected in the United Kingdom made up 90 per cent of variant cases.
According to the latest data, an additional 101 VOC cases were recorded, which pushed the total cases to 2,060, and of that 1,898 were of B.1.1.7.
Infections have also been on the rise across schools in the province, with some forced to temporarily close due to outbreaks.
Health officials reported 322 new school-related infections in Ontario. Currently, 1,199 schools have at least one case of COVID-19 and 63 schools have been closed.
Education Minister Stephen Lecce said Tuesday that spring break for schools will go ahead as planned on April 12 for now.
“If anything changes, given the day-to-day change and fluctuations of the COVID-19 numbers in Ontario, we’ll make sure all families know that well in advance,” he said in the legislature.
Ontario residents aged 70 and older were able to book their COVID-19 vaccine appointments earlier this week, but starting on Wednesday residents 65 and older could schedule their times in York and Halton regions.
So far, more than 315,000 Ontarians have been fully vaccinated. Nearly 90,000 additional doses of a COVID-19 vaccine were given since Tuesday for a total of 2,192,253 doses administered overall.
Although another 1,973 people have recovered from the virus, the number of new cases continues to surpass the daily number of resolved cases.
Ontario has reported 349,903 cases of COVID-19 since last March, and of that total, 322,382 have been resolved.
With files from The Canadian Press