TORONTO — The number of reported new cases of COVID-19 and related deaths surged in Ontario, authorities reported on Friday, a day after officials expressed cautious optimism the spread of the dangerous virus was moderating.
Figures released show a record 1,855 new infections, a whopping increase of 25 per cent from the previous day. Public health authorities also reported 20 new deaths.
There were slight decreases in the number of COVID patients in hospital and on ventilators.
The surge in new cases comes as the province — in line with other parts of Canada — grapple with how best to curb the spread of coronavirus disease in an effort to keep the health-care system functioning. Several hospitals have experienced outbreaks, including a major facility in London, Ont.
Grand River Hospital in Kitchener, Ont., became the latest hit after three patients and two staff tested positive.
The facility said it had closed its clinical teaching unit to new patient admissions and was pondering whether to close one of its eight operating rooms. It also said it was suspending in-person visits in favour of virtual connections.
Staff at high risk of exposure had been tested and asked to self-isolate, Cheryl Evans, a Grand River spokeswoman, said.
In recent weeks, the provincial government and local health authorities have reimposed increasingly stringent anti-pandemic measures, forcing businesses to close and strongly advising people in hot spots to all but isolate.
On Thursday, police ticketed a provincial politician, Randy Hillier, for his role in an anti-lockdown protest at the legislature. Supporters carrying placards that suggested the pandemic was fake did not wear masks.
Four of the hardest hit regions all saw significant case increases, with Health Minister Christine Elliott reporting on Friday 517 new infections in Peel, 494 in Toronto, 189 in York Region, and 130 in Halton.
The most recent provincial projections indicate the province was on track to see as many as 6,500 new daily COVID-19 cases by mid-December without the more stringent measures.
Premier Doug Ford has warned against planning Christmas or other celebrations, while Elliott has said it would be “very optimistic” to expect much of an improvement in time for the holidays.
While schools have remained open, the education minister has warned that an extended winter break or move to remote-only learning may be needed.
“We are thinking ahead to be able to mitigate any increase of transmission in our schools because we’ve fundamentally, in this province, been able to keep that rate down,” Education Minister Stephen Lecce said on Thursday.
Latest figures show 122 new cases in schools, bringing the total infections to 4,470, with at least 2,769 involving students, and at least 614 involving teachers and staff.