Ontario reports 653 COVID-19 cases as new public health restrictions take effect

Ontario reported 653 new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday as new measures to slow the virus take effect in three provincial hot spots.

Saturday’s numbers are largely concentrated in Toronto, Peel Region and Ottawa, which reported 284, 104 and 97 new cases, respectively. 

To tackle a recent surge in those three regions, the province announced new public health restrictions on Friday that come into effect on Saturday. 

Restaurants, bars, banquet halls and gyms in Toronto, Ottawa and Peel Region now all face restrictions on their operations. 

No more than 100 customers will be allowed in restaurants and no more than six people will be permitted at a table.

Restaurants will also be required to collect contact information from all patrons to bolster contact tracing.

Group exercise classes at gyms will be limited to 10 people and the total number of people in fitness settings will be limited to 50.

Other areas with double digit increases include:

  • York Region: 50
  • Waterloo Region: 18
  • Hamilton: 16
  • Niagara Region: 12
  • Halton Region: 12 

Saturday’s new cases bring Ontario’s cumulative total to 53,633. Of those, 435 of were marked resolved in Saturday’s update.

Meanwhile, Ontario’s network of community, commercial and hospital labs processed 46,300 novel coronavirus test samples on Friday, the highest number of tests processed on a single day since the outbreak began in late January, the ministry said. 

The province’s testing backlog, however, has grown to a record-high of 91,322. 

The number of patients in Ontario hospitals with confirmed infections of COVID-19 decreased by 12, down to 155. 

Meanwhile, people requiring intensive care increased by three and now sits at 41, and the number of people on ventilators increased by two to 35.

Health Minister Christine Elliott said a number of Saturday’s cases and deaths occurred in the spring or summer but are being reported now due to a data review by Toronto Public Health (TPH).

Ontario’s official COVID-19 death toll grew by 41 and now stands at 2,968. Of those, four are new and 37 are attributed to the TPH data review.

About 64 per cent of newly confirmed infections are in people under 40 years old, Elliott said in a series of tweets. 

According to the health ministry, 36 of Saturday’s new cases are school-related. Of those, 29 cases are among students, two are among staff and five people are categorized as “individuals not identified.”

Saturday last day for walk-in COVID-19 tests 

The provincial government is also making changes to the process of getting a COVID-19 test in an effort to work through Ontario’s testing backlog. 

Saturday is the last day assessment centres are accepting walk-ins. 

Starting Tuesday, anyone in Ontario wishing to take a COVID-19 test will need to book an appointment at an assessment centre or select pharmacies. 

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