Ontario breaks record with more than 10,000 new COVID-19 cases on Christmas Day

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Ontario released two days’ worth of COVID-19 data on Boxing Day, revealing the province set a new daily case record on Christmas Day with 10,412 new infections.

This is the first time ever that Ontario has counted more than 10,000 new COVID-19 cases in a single day.

The case count held steady for Boxing Day, though, with 9,826 cases reported on December 26.

The latest figure represents a jump of 841 cases from the previous record set Friday when Ontario reported 9,571 cases. The province reported 5,790 on Thursday, 4,383 on Wednesday and 3,453 the day before that.

The sky-high case counts come as the Omicron variant quickly takes hold in the city, leading to gathering and event restrictions from government authorities.

Health Minister Christine Elliott said on Twitter that at least 373 people are in hospital with COVID-19 and 168 are in the ICU. However, she cautioned that these numbers may be an underestimate because not all hospitals report on weekends.

Across the province, more than 100,000 vaccine doses were administered over Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

Overall there are 43 more COVID-19 patients in hospital and nine more in the ICU in Ontario.

Of the new cases, more than half are in the GTA. There were 2,899 in Toronto, 1,025 in York Region, 965 in Peel and 572 in Durham.

Health officials have warned that the latest numbers are likely an underestimate of the true number of cases due to the increased demand for testing.

The latest numbers come as the province struggles to keep up with the demand for testing and takes measures to try to stymie the rapid spread of the Omicron variant.

Health officials asked people earlier this week to limit the size and number of their holiday gatherings because of the contagious variant.

The Ford government also recently slashed capacity limits at most indoor venues in order to try and limit the size of gatherings as well.

But it’s not yet clear whether the measures will be enough to curb the spread of the virus.

The latest data also show eight more outbreaks in long-terms care homes, for a total of 41 current outbreaks. There are also 3 more retirement home outbreaks, bringing that total to nine, and 12 more hospital outbreaks, for a total of 26 hospitals with an ongoing outbreak.

The rolling seven-day average of new daily cases now stands at 5,939. That’s more than double the seven-day average last Saturday, which was 2,156.

The government has also been stressing booster shots as a way to increase protection against the variant. A number of clinics across the GTA continued to administer shots Christmas Day.

Mayor John Tory and Toronto Board of Health Chair Joe Cressy toured one of them at Mitchell Field Community Centre in North York Saturday morning and thanked staff there for working over the holidays.

Tory said that the city has managed to ramp up to get close to 30 per cent of the eligible population in the city boosted so far.

“So this leaves us in a situation where 27.6 per cent of those who are eligible have now received their booster dose and this is again, a significant accomplishment. But of course anytime you see you’re at 27.6 per cent it means you have 72 per cent-plus you have to go,” Tory said. “So we’re not letting up in our efforts and it’s why we have opened up literally thousands of appointments over the Christmas period including Boxing Day and beyond, and over the New Year’s period, including New Year’s Day and beyond and there will be clinics open on those days.”

Tory also said he knows it’s hard for everyone to spend yet another holiday under the veil of a pandemic.

“These Christmases haven’t been easy,” Tory said. “You’re maybe not able to spend Christmas with as many of your family members as you might like to do. You want to go somewhere for Christmas and it seemed better not to do that. And so I just want to say thank you for your patience and for your understanding.”

He offered a hopeful note, thinking back to last Christmas when even more people were isolated and most businesses shuttered and said that if people continue doing what needs to be done despite the hardships, “there is good reason to believe we’re going to put this behind us.”

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