Ontario logged at least 11,582 new cases of COVID-19 and the number of people in hospital with the illness topped 2,000 on Wednesday, as stricter public health measures took effect in the province.
The Ministry of Health says there are 2,081 patients with COVID-19 in hospital, up from 726 at the same time last week — a 187 per cent jump.
Similarly, there are 288 patients being treated for COVID-related illnesses in intensive care units, up from 190 last Wednesday.
In long-term care homes, there are 1,027 confirmed active cases among staff members and 571 among residents.
According to Critical Care Services Ontario, 42 more adults with COVID-19 were admitted to ICUs on Tuesday. A total of 124 adults were moved to ICUs in the last three days, the agency said.
COVID-19 patients in Ontario hospitals and ICUs
As Ontario recently changed its guidelines to significantly limit who qualifies for a PCR test, the case total for today is likely a drastic undercount of the real situation. Ontario's COVID-19 Science Advisory Table estimates that roughly one in five cases are currently being confirmed by the province's testing regime.
For the 59,137 tests that were completed, Public Health Ontario reported a positivity rate of 28.1 per cent. It is the eighth straight day positivity rates have been higher than 25 per cent. Nearly 95,000 more test samples are in the backlog waiting to be completed.
The confirmed cases reported this morning include:
2,524 in Toronto
1,435 in Peel Region
1,294 in York Region
699 in Durham Region
584 in Hamilton
531 in Waterloo Region
511 in Halton Region
469 in Ottawa
441 in Middlesex-London
441 in Niagara Region
381 in Simcoe Muskoka
334 in Windsor-Essex
277 in Eastern Ontario health unit
144 in Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington
126 in Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph
124 in Haliburton
117 in Brant County
109 in Grey Bruce
105 in Peterborough
105 in Sudbury
The Ministry of Health also recorded the deaths of 14 more people with the illness, pushing the province's official toll to 10,252.
Meanwhile, public health units collectively administered another 180,013 doses of vaccines on Tuesday, including 161,487 booster shots. A total of 4,056,554 people in the province have now had a third shot.
Online school begins
A host of renewed health measures and restrictions are now in place in Ontario.
Schools will run remotely until at least Jan. 17, while most other measures, including business closures, are slated to last at least 21 days.
Hospitals are ordered to pause all non-urgent surgeries to free up staff to cover absences and the rising number of hospitalized virus patients.
Several kinds of business including cinemas, gyms, theatres and restaurants must close for indoor activities.
Some other businesses including retail stores and personal care services are limited to 50 per cent capacity.
Social gatherings are limited to five people indoors and 10 people outdoors.
COVID patients, staffing shortages plague some hospitals
Niagara Health is shutting down its urgent health centre in Fort Erie on Thursday due to shortages of staff and increasing numbers of COVID-19 patients.
The hospital says nurses and doctors working there will be redeployed to other emergency departments in the region.
Residents needing health care are asked to contact their doctors, access the urgent care centre in Port Colborne or go to the nearest emergency department.
Other hospitals in Ontario are being forced to cancel surgeries and redeploy their staff to provide care for the surging numbers of COVID-19 patients.
Bluewater Health hospital in Sarnia says it has reopened a COVID-19 health unit as the number of novel coronavirus patients in the hospital quadrupled from seven to 31 during the last two weeks.
The hospital says it had to cancel most surgeries as the number of staff on sick leave increased to five times the usual number.
The William Osler Health System, however, declared its "Code Orange" over on Wednesday evening. William Osler oversees Brampton Civic and Etobicoke General hospitals.
"Triggered temporarily due to demand outpacing capacity across the organization, Code Orange mobilized Osler's staff, physicians, volunteers and system partners to work together to respond to the escalating situation and ensure the continued delivery of quality care to our communities," the health system said on its website.
"As soon as Osler was able to mitigate the urgency of the situation, we declared the Code over. However, we continue to monitor circumstances."
A code orange is typically declared "when demand outpaces capacity to ensure internal and external resources are deployed efficiently," the health system said in a news release. It was the first time William Osler issued a code orange during the pandemic.