Ford suggests more COVID-related restrictions on the way

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More pandemic-related restrictions could be announced as early as Wednesday in response to rising case numbers and hospitalizations, Premier Doug Ford says.

“This is moving day by day, hour by hour,” Ford said Tuesday. “We’re going to have further restrictions moving forward, very, very quickly… We have to focus on where we see the problem.”

Toronto, Peel and York are home to 60% of COVID-19 cases, and the government intends to turn the hoses on the “inferno,” he said.

The Ford government hit its pandemic “emergency brake” last week, ordering the entire province into lockdown although it stopped short of a full stay-at-home order.

The premier said he was dismayed to see images of crowded retail malls coming out of Toronto over the long weekend.

Ontario reported 3,065 new cases of COVID-19 Tuesday and eight more deaths.

The most locked-down areas of the province continue to show the highest number of new infections.

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There were 955 new cases in Toronto, 561 in Peel, 320 in York, 165 in Ottawa, 128 in Hamilton and 101 in Durham.

Public health officials expressed concern over the number of patients with COVID-19 in intensive care — 510 which is the highest since the beginning of the pandemic and includes 310 patients on ventilators.

Dr. Barbara Yaffe, Ontario associate chief medical officer of health, said signs across the province are worsening.

“The seven-day average for deaths has increased by 7% over the last week to 15 deaths per day,” Yaffe said, adding the positivity rate for COVID-19 testing hit a three-month high of 8.9%.

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Ontario has vaccinated the majority of the population, age 80 and older, resulting in a decrease in deaths and serious illness in that demographic group.

Dr. David Williams, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, said just over half of ICU admissions are now people ages 60-75.

Hospitals have reported they are seeing patients in their 40s and 50s and even some in their 30s, he said.

“And coming in quite ill,” Williams said.

While daily cases are now routinely around 3,000, they are still below the worst-case scenarios projected by modelling of 4,000 to 6,000 new cases a day.

aartuso@postmedia.com

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