Ontario Premier Doug Ford says the province is “making steady process in our vaccination delivery plan” as Sunday registered the highest daily COVID-19 case count since Feb. 7.
The premier, joined by Health Minister Christine Elliott, Solicitor General Sylvia Jones and General Rick Hillier, said the province is on track to deliver 150,000 vaccines per day.
“Our total capacity in a month is 4.8 million,” Ford said, noting that so far the province only has about 1.4 million vaccines coming in throughout March.
“We’re making steady process,” he said, “We just need more vaccines.”
On Sunday morning, the province reported 1,747 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Sunday as well as 15 new deaths. That figure includes 545 new cases in Toronto, 352 cases in Peel Region and 163 new cases in York Region.
With the exception of March 8, when a data issue caused the case count to be artificially inflated by about 300 cases, this morning’s number is the highest on a single day since Feb. 7. However, Health Minister Christine Elliott said today’s number was inflated due to a data error in the provincial system.
“There was a data error so the cases appear higher than they would normally be,” she said. “We expect it would be several hundred cases fewer in actual fact.”
The seven-day average of daily cases — which helps to clarify long-term trends in the data — rose to 1,337 on Saturday, marking eight straight days of increases in that figure.
As of 8 p.m. on Saturday, the province had administered 1,158,355 doses of COVID-19 vaccines.
Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam said on Sunday that there are currently 31,224 active cases across the country and a national seven-day average of 3,052 new cases daily as of March 11.
“Although COVID-19 activity has been levelling off nationally for a few weeks, average daily case counts remain high and we are now observing a recent increase,” she said in a statement.
She also noted that a total of 2,986 variants of concern have been reported in Canada as of March 11, including 2,728 cases of the B.1.1.7 variant first detected in the UK, 215 cases of the B.1.351 variant detected in South Africa and 43 cases of the P.1 variant first detected in Brazil.
“While vaccine programs begin to accelerate, it will be important to maintain a high degree of caution,” she said. “Any easing of public health measures must be done slowly with enhanced testing, screening, and genomic analysis to detect variants of concern.”
Vaccine booking system to go live on Monday
The province’s booking system and support desk are set to go live at 8 a.m. on Monday, according to a news release.
People who are aged 80 and older will be eligible to book an appointment to get a COVID-19 vaccine.
“We need to take care of our elderly first,” Ford said.
If you have a red and white health card or you need help with booking an appointment, the province says to call the information line at 1-888-999-6488. Please note that the line is not operational until 8 a.m. on Monday, March 15.
In order to reduce high traffic volumes, the province is asking people who are not yet vaccine eligible to avoid calling the line or clogging up the online system.
General Hillier says he expects the province will have vaccinated everyone age 80 and older by early April, at which point the system will open up for bookings for people ages 75 and older.
“Hopefully early April,” he said.