Ontario reported 47 net new COVID-19 deaths on Wednesday, as hospitalizations continued a lengthy decline and surveillance data indicated the pandemic is receding in all areas except for the north.
Ministry of Health spokesperson Alexandra Hilkene said one of the new deaths detected occurred on Tuesday, eight occurred on Monday and nine occurred on Sunday, with the remaining 28 occurring over the past 30 days.
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One additional death that occurred more than 30 days ago was also added to the total.
There have been 222 deaths due to COVID-19 reported in the past week and 1,601 deaths detected in the past 30 days.
At least 12,166 deaths due to COVID-19 have been reported in Ontario since March 2020.
Hospitalizations involving COVID-infected patients fell to 1,403 across the province on Wednesday, down 147 in the past 24 hours and 494 in the past week.
There were 364 patients in intensive care on Wednesday, down from 445 one week ago.
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Ontario’s COVID-19 Science Advisory Table projects intensive care occupancy will fall by half by mid-March.
Yesterday, Ontario Premier Doug Ford said he and what he thought was a large portion of the public were “done” with COVID-19 vaccine passports and other restrictions, criticizing the fact he knew “hundreds” of people who became infected with Omicron after receiving a third vaccine dose.
Most restrictions other than indoor mask mandates will end on March 1.
UHN infectious diseases specialist Dr. Isaac Bogoch said it was important to acknowledge the impact of masking and vaccination in preserving peoples’ health.
“We still are in a position where masks have helped, they’re not perfect but yes they have helped and it’s still a very good idea to wear them in indoor public settings,” he told CP24.
“It’s important to recognize the tools that we have, have really done a lot of work to keep us safe, and the pandemic isn’t over.”
He said that even if the province soon goes further to eliminate mask mandates, the emergence of a new variant of concern or a significant spike in hospital admissions could warrant bringing them back.
“Asking people to put masks back on is not the end of the world if there’s good science and good data that demonstrates that would be effective and the situation on the ground is such that masking would be effective as well.”
Wastewater surveillance data suggests infections are declining in all regions of Ontario except for the north.
Of the 2,532 cases detected through PCR testing on Wednesday, 376 involved unvaccinated people, 91 involved partially vaccinated people, 1,767 involved people with at least two doses and 297 involved people with unknown vaccination status.
Free access to PCR testing for most residents was halted on Dec. 30, 2021 and results from rapid antigen tests are not collected by the province.
The Ministry of Health says 31,735 COVID-19 vaccine doses were administered on Tuesday.
Of those, 3,603 were first doses, 10,084 were second doses and 15,957 were third doses.
Across all age groups, 84.9 per cent of residents have at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, 80.8 per cent have two doses and 46 per cent have three doses.
The numbers used in this story are found in the Ontario Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 Daily Epidemiologic Summary. The number of cases for any city or region may differ slightly from what is reported by the province, because local units report figures at different times.