Ontario sees 4,301 new cases of COVID-19 over 2 days as provincewide lockdown begins

Ontario is reporting a two-day total of 4,301 cases of COVID-19.

Health Minister Christine Elliott said there are 2,142 new cases of the virus on Saturday while 2,159 new cases were logged on Christmas Day.

The province now has had more than 2,000 cases 12 days in a row.

On Saturday there are 541 new cases in Toronto, 344 in Peel, 262 in York Region, 136 in Hamilton and 131 in Windsor-Essex.

The number of tests completed over the last two days was not made available by the province.

The 4,301 new infections bring Ontario’s COVID-19 case total to 169,411, including deaths and recoveries. 

There are now nearly 20,000 active cases of novel coronavirus infection across the province.

On Saturday there were 755 people hospitalized with COVID-19. Of this number, 286 are in intensive care units and 187 are breathing with the help of a ventilator.

The province says that at least 10 per cent of hospitals did not report patient data.

Some ‘big box’ retailers are allowed to remain operating for in-store shopping during a 28-day ‘lockdown’ aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19 in Ontario. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

There were also 38 additional deaths reported on Saturday. Forty-three people also died of infection on Friday, bringing the total number of deaths reported since the pandemic began to 4,359.

Thirty-nine of the eighty-one deaths reported in the past 48 hours were among residents of long-term care homes.

Provincewide lockdown begins

Meanwhile, a provincewide lockdown meant to bring down COVID-19 case counts takes effect today in Ontario.

The restrictions will remain in place for southern Ontario until Jan. 23, but will lift for northern Ontario on Jan. 9.

The move was announced on Monday after the provincial government took part in emergency talks last weekend.

Under new rules, restaurants can only provide takeout, drive-thru and delivery, including the sale of alcohol.

Supermarkets, pharmacies and retailers that sell primarily food can stay open for in-person shopping but with distancing and limits on capacity.

When the holiday break is over, children enrolled in publicly-funded elementary and secondary schools will participate in remote learning from Jan. 4 to Jan. 8, and some longer depending on their age and area.

The province has stressed the need to follow public health guidelines over the holidays, including limits on gatherings.

On Saturday Elliott urged all Ontarians to stay home as much as possible with trips limited to necessities such as food, medication, medical appointments, or supporting vulnerable community members.

 New restrictions came into effect Saturday, placing the entire province of Ontario in lockdown:

New restrictions came into effect Saturday, placing the entire province of Ontario in lockdown. In some regions, the measures will stay in place until at least Jan. 23. 4:18

No data on the number of new COVID-19 cases were released on Christmas Day, but Ontario reached a new high in daily cases on Thursday, with a tally of 2,447.

Earlier this week, the province released new modelling that showed so-called “hard” lockdowns lasting four to six weeks could bring daily case counts down to less than 1,000.

The projections showed the province will see 300 intensive care unit beds filled within 10 days, and possibly as many as 1,500 by mid-January under a worst case scenario.

The data also shows that deaths due to COVID-19 will continue to increase, especially in long-term care.

Ontario began administering the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to health-care workers earlier this month, and is poised to receive tens of thousands of doses of the newly approved Moderna shot by the end of the month.

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