COVID-19 cases down across Ontario but U.K. variant a threat, new data indicates

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TORONTO — Ontario says COVID-19 cases are decreasing across the province, but the spread of the U.K. variant of the virus presents a “significant threat” to controlling the pandemic.

The findings come in new projections released by the province's health and science advisors.

Data shows cases began decreasing after the start of a provincial lockdown at the end of the December, and that decline continued after a stay-at-home order was imposed two weeks ago.

The data also shows that a more contagious variant of the virus first identified in the U.K. is spreading in Ontario and is a significant concern.

The experts compiling the data say that maintaining public health measures can still reduce case counts, despite the variant's presence, and allow schools to reopen.

The new data also shows that cases in long-term care have begun to decline but deaths in nursing homes continue to rise, with 215 reported in the last week.

Hospital capacity continues to be strained, with half of the province's facilities only having one or two free intensive care beds.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 28, 2021.

The Canadian Press