Ontario reports 1,418 new COVID-19 cases as the province extends public health orders

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TORONTO — Ontario is reporting 1,418 new cases of COVID-19 today, along with eight new deaths related to the virus.

Health Minister Christine Elliott says there are 400 new cases in Peel Region, 393 in Toronto and 168 in York Region.

The latest figures have pushed Ontario over the 100,000 case mark, for a total of 100,790.

The province says a total of  84,716 cases have been resolved, and 3,451 deaths have been recorded overall.

Ontario is also reporting 518 people currently in hospital with COVID-19.

Meanwhile, the provincial government says public health orders currently in effect across Ontario will remain in place for another month.

The province says the orders under the Reopening Ontario Act will remain in force until Dec. 21.

Solicitor General Sylvia Jones says extending the orders will ensure the province can address the health crisis and deliver critical services such as health care.

The government is also expected to release new public health measures today to fight the spread of COVID-19 in hot spots.

Premier Doug Ford said earlier this week that the restrictions will affect Toronto as well as Peel and York regions where cases have been increasing in recent weeks.

Ford says the province must make the move to protect hospital capacity and residents of long-term care homes.

Ontario’s chief medical officer of health has made recommendations to Ford’s cabinet, which is expected to make a decision this morning ahead of the afternoon announcement.

The province’s associate medical officer of health said Thursday that 80 per cent of the new cases in Ontario are from the hot spot regions that are currently in the red restriction zone.

Dr. Barbara Yaffe also says keeping schools open remains a priority.

Ford has repeatedly said in recent days that he will take targeted action in the hot spot regions, and he would not hesitate to use full lockdowns if necessary.

“As it’s looking, these measures, they will have to be tough in the hardest hit areas,” he said Thursday. “We’re seeing concerning trends, our hospital ICU beds are in jeopardy and our long-term care homes are at risk. We have some difficult, but necessary decisions to make.”

Ford has expressed frustration with people he claimed were flouting public health rules and holding social gatherings.

“I just see it out there, some people are just throwing up their hands and saying, ‘If I get it, I get it,’” he said. “Well, that doesn’t cut it any more.”

On Thursday, Ontario reported 150 COVID-19 patients in its intensive care units, which earlier modelling suggested would be the point at which elective surgeries would have to be cancelled.

The head of the Ontario Hospital Association said Thursday that the feared scenario was now a reality.

“Please know that given the gravity of the situation, hospitals will continue to (do) everything possible to maintain access to services for patients who need care,” OHA CEO Anthony Dale said in a statement.

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