Ontario reports 5,790 new COVID-19 cases, goes back on vaccine eligibility for kids born in 2017

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Travellers walk through Pearson airport, in Toronto, on Dec. 16, 2021. (Evan Mitsui/CBC - image credit)
Travellers walk through Pearson airport, in Toronto, on Dec. 16, 2021. (Evan Mitsui/CBC - image credit)

Ontario reported 5,790 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, the most ever logged on a single day in the province by a considerable margin.

The previous pandemic high of 4,812 came on April 16th, 2021.

Today's count is a 139 per cent jump over the same time last week. The seven-day average of daily cases, which is currently on pace to double every five-and-a-half days or so, climbed to 4,002.

Dr. Kieran Moore, Ontario's chief medical officer of health, said this week that record-high daily case counts were expected and will likely continue for several weeks.

Ontario: New daily cases of COVID-19

Kids born in 2017 ineligible until 5th birthday

Meanwhile, a spokeswoman for Ontario's health minister says children born in 2017 will have to wait for their fifth birthday to be eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine.

Alexandra Hilkene says that guidance will remain in place for the time being.

It's a shift away from the rules that were in place when Pfizer-BioNTech's pediatric COVID-19 vaccine was approved for use in kids aged five to 11 in Canada last month.

At that point, all kids born in 2016 or earlier were eligible for a shot in Ontario.

Last week, Ontario's Ministry of Health tweeted that anyone born in 2017 would be eligible for their vaccine starting at the beginning of January — a tweet Hilkene said was published "in error" because the province had yet to make a decision on the matter.

Pfizer continues to test its vaccines for use in kids under the age of five, but reported last week that it was adding a third dose to the trials because the usual two shots didn't appear strong enough for some of the children.

Positivity rate of 16% highest ever in Ontario

That's as positivity rates continue to spike. On Thursday morning, Public Health Ontario reported a 16 per cent positivity rate from 68,191 tests, by far the highest level ever seen in the province.

Hospitalizations and ICU admissions are also rising somewhat, though much more slowly than cases and positivity rates.

As of Wednesday, there were 440 people with COVID in hospitals, up from 328 at the same time last week. For comparison, there were about 2,000 people in hospital on April 16.

Moreover, there were 169 patients being treated for COVID-related illnesses in ICUs on Wednesday, up only slightly from 165 on the same day last week.

The Ministry of Health reported the deaths of seven more people with the virus, pushing the official toll to 10,140.

Public health units collectively administered 253,258 doses of COVID vaccines on Wednesday. Of those, just more than 233,000 were booster shots.

The province this week issued an appeal to firefighters, dentists and retired doctors and nurses to join the booster shot campaign.

In an effort to ramp up capacity more quickly, the government is temporarily amending regulations to allow more people to administer vaccine doses, the province said in a news release on Wednesday afternoon.

"Supervision will be required by a physician, registered nurse or nurse practitioner, or pharmacist who is present at the premises where the vaccine is administered," the release said.

If you are among the professionals included in the province's appeal, you can register to help through the Health Workforce Matching Portal.

The government also called on anyone aged 16 and older who might want to volunteer to help in various capacities at vaccination sites.

Those who are interested can register at the new COVID-19 Volunteer Portal.

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