Health Care

Ontario logs more than 1800 new COVID-19 cases, 43 deaths

Ontario logs more than 1800 new COVID-19 cases, 43 deaths”

In Waterloo, Ont., officials say the first case of a more infectious new strain of COVID-19 detected in the region is connected to an outbreak at a long-term care home.

Ontario Minister of Health and Deputy Premier Christine Elliott confirmed during the same presser that lifting of public health and safety measures "must be considered very carefully" until we know more about how the variants spread and until our COVID-19 numbers in general are lower.

Doug Ford says it is implementing a six-point plan which includes mandatory on-arrival testing of worldwide travellers, enhanced screening and sequencing to identify the new variants, maintaining public health measures.

A six-point plan set out Friday by the government will ramp up capacity to detect variants more quickly, tweak isolation policies, and require mandatory on-arrival testing of all global travellers arriving at Pearson Airport by February 1, among other steps.

In a call-to-action on Tuesday speaking at Pearson Airport, Ford urged the feds to enforce these types of COVID-19 restrictions.

He also added that new information on morbidity and mortality rates of the new variants, which were initially thought to be simply more transmissible than the initial strain, is starting to show that the variants may indeed be more fatal.

The Ministry of Health also says the number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care has dipped to 356, down from 392 last week.

All incoming travellers must be tested for COVID-19 upon arrival at Toronto's Pearson Airport starting February 1 at 12:01 p.m., Premier Doug Ford said on January 29. This will enhance the province's capacity to identify known and emerging variants of COVID-19.

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The new mandatory testing measure will go into effect at noon on Monday, Feb. 1.

Ontario's first COVID-19 United Kingdom variant case was confirmed last month and was due to worldwide travel. Public Health Ontario (PHO) will also undertake and co-ordinate genomic sequencing efforts to identify new and emerging variants by sequencing up to 10 per cent of all positive tests by February 17.

This comes after the province's latest round of COVID-19 modelling, with Dr. Adalsteinn Brown saying they're concerned about new variants of the virus, such as (B.1.1.7), which continues to spread in Ontario potentially threatening pandemic control. The declared provincial emergency and stay-at-home order were recently extended until February 9.

The provincial workforce will continue supporting public health units to ensure cases and contacts are reached as soon as possible and monitored through their quarantine period. Asymptomatic contacts will now be asked to repeat testing on or after day 10 of their quarantine, while the entire household of any contacts and symptomatic individuals will be asked to stay home until the contact has a negative test.

Of the cases reported today there are 263 people under 19 years old, 745 people between 20 and 39 years old, 636 people between 40 and 59 years old, 291 people between 60 and 79 years old, and 129 people over the age of 80.

Of the province's 43 new deaths, 21 are among long-term care residents.

On Sunday, health officials deemed 2,313 more cases of the disease to be resolved, bringing Ontario's number of recovered patients up to 242,807.

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