Ontario reports 326 cases as province plans to end 30-day limit on prescriptions

Ontario has reported 326 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday morning, bringing the provincial total to 27,859.

A total of 17,014 tests were processed on Saturday, exceeding the current daily target of 16,000 for a fourth straight day. A record total of 20,640 tests were processed on Friday.  

The system has the capacity to handle more than 25,000 on any given day, Hayley Chazan, spokesperson for Ontario's Health Minister Christine Elliott, said in an email on Saturday.

A total of 781 people are in hospital with the novel coronavirus as of Sunday, with 118 patients in intensive care units and 90 on ventilators. 

According to the province, there have been 2,266 COVID-19-related deaths, an increase of 19 deaths from the last report. 

Using data from local public health units, CBC News has counted a total of 2,329 deaths in Ontario as of 5:30 p.m. ET, an increase of 19 deaths from Saturday.

A total of 21,810 people have recovered from the virus.

Province to scrap 30-day limit on prescriptions July 1

Meanwhile, Ontarians who rely on prescription medication will hopefully see an onerous COVID-19 precaution lifted by the end of June, as the province starts to ease restrictions.

A 30-day limit on prescriptions was brought in by the Ontario government in the early days of the pandemic in an effort to prevent drug shortages. Spokespeople for Ontario's seniors community and the province's pharmacy industry say they expect the limitation will be lifted within the month, returning to the usual 90-day maximum by July 1.

"It's been a difficult policy," said Justin Bates, the chief executive officer of the Ontario Pharmacists Association. "We stand by the policy, we think it was the right thing to do, but I think everybody's hopeful that we can get back to 90 days and to a normal cycle of quantity."

Bates said that before the pandemic even began there were supply chain issues for pharmacists, with the manufacturers of key ingredients in China and India unable to produce necessary quantities.

That shortage was exacerbated in the early stages of the novel coronavirus pandemic, with hospitals filling more orders and individuals trying to stock up, just as there were runs on other essential items such as toilet paper.

As a result, several provinces imposed the 30-day limit, with Ontario one of the final provinces yet to return to the 90-day norm.

18 Woodbridge Vista Care residents taken to hospital

In an email on Sunday, Sienna Senior Living confirmed that 18 residents of Woodbridge Vista Care Community were taken to hospital on Saturday. Most have COVID-19, the company said. Sienna Senior Living runs a 224-bed facility in Woodbridge.

"These residents were transferred from Woodbridge Vista Care Community as the level of care required for them exceeded that provided at a long-term care home. The majority of the residents transferred were confirmed to have COVID-19," Natalie Gokchenian, spokesperson for Sienna Senior Living, said in the email.

Ministers want Ottawa to improve broadband access

Two Ontario cabinet ministers are calling for more federal funding that would improve broadband accessibility in the province, specifically in northern and rural areas, an issue made more apparent during the pandemic.

In a letter on Sunday, Education Minister Stephen Lecce and Infrastructure Minister Laurie Scott urge the federal government to collaborate with the province to "fully fund broadband to support students, parents and teachers across Ontario."

"People across Ontario are relying on access to the Internet to maintain normalcy, including learning and working from home, ordering household essentials and connecting with friends and family," the letter reads. 

The letter says while most Ontarians have access to an Internet connection, there are coverage gaps in rural and northern communities, as well as some urban areas.