TORONTO — Ontario recorded more than 1,000 new cases of COVID-19 for the second time in a week on Saturday, days after politicians and health officials indicated provincial case loads were beginning to ease.
The 1,015 new diagnoses recorded over the past 24 hours marked the second-highest daily tally recorded in the province in the seven months since the global pandemic shifted into high gear. Ontario also recorded nine new deaths connected to the novel coronavirus.
The bulk of the new cases remained concentrated in the four regions long identified as infection hot spots. Provincial figures showed 325 of the latest cases were reported in Toronto, 282 in neighbouring Peel, 88 in York Region just north of the city, and 94 in Ottawa.
The numbers trending upwards comes days after health officials unveiled new projections for the virus's outlook and said the province will likely be heading in the right direction despite numbers that have remained high over the past week.
"While today's increase in cases are concerning, case count numbers fluctuate and a single day figure does not indicate a trend for better or worse," ministry of health spokesman David Jensen said in an email to The Canadian Press.
Officials have predicted Ontario would likely settle into a range of 800 to 1,200 new daily cases for the next several weeks.
"Most indicators are showing slow in growth in COVID-19 cases, the trajectory appears to be moving away from the worst case, but cases are continuing to climb," said Dr. Adalsteinn Brown, the dean of the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto and one of the people who helped guide the analysis.
"So this is not that we have crested and are now coming back down the other side of the epidemic curve — we're just getting to a slower period of growth within that curve."
Saturday's total was the second-highest recorded since the start of the pandemic in March, eclipsed only by the 1,042 cases reported the previous Sunday.
Still, Ford said Friday that he was mulling lifting some of the regulations meant to quell the spread of COVID-19 in hot spots including Ottawa, Toronto, Peel and York.
The 28-day restrictions closed gyms and banned indoor dining at restaurants and bars, angering the business community who complained shutdowns were killing their companies.
Ford insisted the closures were the right thing to do.
The province is still far from being rid of the virus and hospitals remain under siege from outbreaks.
Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto declared an outbreak on Friday in its 9 South in-patient unit after two active cases were identified there.
The Scarborough Health Network was also still battling the virus with outbreaks in four units earlier in the week.
The network warned that it was bracing for more cases as the outbreaks evolve.
Saturday's numbers showed 320 people in the province are being treated in hospital with 73 of them in intensive care and 54 on ventilators.
Of the 320 hospitalizations, six came in the last day.
The numbers the province released on Saturday are based on more than 41,900 tests completed over the past 24 hours and also reveal the province has resolved 798 more cases.
The new data brings Ontario's death toll to 3,136 victims and means 64,717 of 75,730 cases have been resolved.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 31, 2020.
— with files from Paola Loriggio and Shawn Jeffords.
The Canadian Press