News Portal Ontario reports 1,808 new COVID-19 cases ahead of expected announcement on booster shots

New Public Health Ontario report estimates 80% of cases on Dec. 13 were due to omicron
CBC News · Posted: Dec 15, 2021 10:14 AM ET | Last Updated: 6 minutes ago
Ontario Premier Doug Ford is meeting with this cabinet Wednesday, ahead of an expected announcement about booster shots in the province. (Chris Young/The Canadian Press)

Ontario reported 1,808 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, ahead of an expected announcement on booster shots from Premier Doug Ford.

Ford is scheduled to hold a news conference on the topic at 3:30 p.m. ET, alongside Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore, Health Minister Christine Elliott and Solicitor General Sylvia Jones. You’ll be able to watch it live in this story.

The announcement was originally slated for 2 p.m., but was pushed back by Ford’s office.

The expected news comes just days after people aged 50 and older became eligible for the third vaccine shots. On Tuesday, public health units collectively administered 108,579 booster doses.

Calls have been growing for the province to expand booster access further to the protect against the rapidly spreading Omicron variant.

Moore has said the variant will become dominant soon and all cases should be treated as Omicron going forward. A new report from Public Health Ontario found that an estimated 80 per cent of all new cases on Dec. 13 were caused by Omicron.

During a Tuesday news conference, Moore also said that he would make recommendations to Ford’s government on provincewide policies that account for the unprecedented transmissibility of the variant.

Today’s case count is the most on single day since May 21, during the third wave of the pandemic in Ontario, and marks a 79 per cent jump over Wednesday last week.

The seven-day average has risen to 1,514, and a 50 per cent increase over the same time last week. The metric is on pace to double every 12 days or so.

While cases are rising quickly, the burden on hospitals has remained relatively steady. As of Tuesday, there were 357 people with COVID-19 being treated in hospital, up a bit from 333 last Wednesday.

Moreover, there were 154 patients being treated for COVID-related illnesses in intensive care units, compared to 155 at the same time last week.

Ontario’s COVID-19 Science Advisory Table has cautioned that hospital admissions are a lagging indicator, and a surge in new cases will inevitably lead to an increased strain on hospitals. The magnitude of that strain, though, is still unclear.

In its most recent modelling, the group said there could be between 250 and 400 COVID patients in ICUs by the end of January. But that modelling did not fully account for how the presence of Omicron could change things in the province.

For its part, the provincial government has said that up to 300 COVID-19 patients could be safely admitted to critical care before urgent non-COVID related care would need to be postponed.

Today’s updated figures come after the government announced on Tuesday stricter testing and vaccination policies for long-term care facilities, including that all visitors — with a few key exceptions — must have two doses to enter a home.

Meanwhile, here are some other key pandemic indicators and figures from the Ministry of Health’s daily provincial update:

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