Toronto top doctor urges more vaccinations as new COVID-19 cases drop below 120

·3 min read
Mayor John Tory, Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa, and Toronto Fire Chief and head of Emergency Management Matthew Pegg provide regular updates on COVID-19 in Toronto. (Evan Mitsui/CBC - image credit)
Mayor John Tory, Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa, and Toronto Fire Chief and head of Emergency Management Matthew Pegg provide regular updates on COVID-19 in Toronto. (Evan Mitsui/CBC - image credit)

Toronto recorded 117 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, a daily case count not seen since September 2020.

To date, 2,437,444 vaccine doses have been administered in the city, while appointments continue to be booked for first and second doses.

As of yesterday, the city has 776,860 booked vaccination appointments at its city-operated clinics.

Medical officer of health Dr. Eileen de Villa said the city recorded 117 new cases today. There are 706 people in hospital, 203 of those in intensive care.

"I'm saddened to report 12 deaths today," de Villa said.

Speaking about the delta variant, de Villa responded to several concerns about what the more transmissible and more infectious strain means for the city moving forward into reopening.

"In my view, Toronto is on a solid path forward, though a narrow path as we watch the delta variant," she said.

Spread of delta variant means getting vaccinated a top priority

She stressed the need for residents to get their vaccinations as soon as possible. Increasing first and second dose coverage is the most important thing residents can do to combat the delta variant, she said.

De Villa also recommends "proceeding selectively in daily life" and being vigilant. She cited the recent uptick in daily case counts in the United Kingdom, where despite mass vaccination, the variant is spreading, threatening to postpone UK's reopening plans.

"Total case counts jumped 90 per cent in UK last week," de Villa said.

Up to 72 per cent of residents in Toronto have received their first dose, only 11 per cent have had two doses of the vaccine.

Everyone 12 and older is eligible to book a first dose appointment.

Accelerated second dose appointments are now available for people aged 70 or older, anyone who received a Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine before April 18, or anyone who received a first AstraZeneca dose more than 12 weeks ago.

While the city and the province continue to make progress in declining case counts, Peel Region's local medical officer of health warns of a "potential fourth wave" driven by the delta variant.

The more transmissible variant has spread among Toronto and Peel, and a first dose of the available vaccines only offer 33 to 55 per cent effectiveness, Loh said.

Outdoor pools and patios to reopen

Meanwhile, Toronto is beginning to reopen its outdoor pools, the mayor announced. As the province moves into step one of its reopening plan starting Friday, Toronto will open 10 outdoor pools on June 12.

Those include pools at Alex Duff, Monarch Park, Heron Park CC, Grandravine CC, McGregor CC, Parkway Forest CC, Pine Point, Riverdale Park, Sunnyside-Gus Ryder, and West Mall.

Outdoor pools will remain open until Labour Day.

Outdoor patios are also set to reopen this weekend. As part of the reopening plan, patios will have limits of four people per table (unless the household size exceeds four) with tables two metres apart to preserve physical distancing.

COVID-19 rules in place until September

Toronto City Council declared that the city's temporary COVID-19 bylaws will be in effect until September. It approved the recommendation Wednesday from Toronto Public Health.

The COVID-19 bylaws were originally set to expire on Wednesday, but have been extended until Sept. 30.

Specific bylaws to be extended include those regulating physical distancing rules in city parks and public squares and the bylaw requiring face coverings or masks in common areas of businesses, apartments, or condominiums.

A bylaw that regulates apartment building hygiene and signage, as well as increased cleaning protocols, is also extended.

Food and drink establishments must also continue to adhere to a bylaw requiring them to implement measures to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 through signage, capacity limits, and table limits.