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Province must cut COVID-19 cases to 1,000 daily to lift current lockdowns: Williams

Last Updated Jan 18, 2021 at 5:44 pm EST

Ontario’s chief medical officer of health says the province must cut its daily COVID-19 case counts to below 1,000 before lockdown measures can be lifted.

Dr. David Williams called the goal “achievable” and said the last time the province saw similar daily case counts was late October.

“In the past couple of weeks, all during the so-called holiday season and after, even though our numbers did go down on weekends, our percent positivity went up quite extensively,” he said.

“This time, it did not go up and our percent positivity has been dropping.”

Williams says that could very well indicate Ontario is starting to see results from the lockdown.

“Some of the positive indications that we are making some headway at flattening the curve, we would move ourselves down to the one percent growth level, maybe heading down to zero percent,” he said.

“But early days. Don’t want to conclude that too quickly. Let’s see what happens over the next number of days, into this week ahead.”

Williams says he would also like to see the number of COVID-19 patients in hospital intensive care units drop.

“If you get below 150 COVID patients in ICU beds that starts to get you back down to where all the hospitals can start to do their other elective procedures,” he said.

The province reported today that 395 people were in hospital intensive care units across Ontario.

His comments come less than a week after the province was plunged into its second state of emergency during the pandemic and Premier Doug Ford’s government imposed a stay-at-home order.

Meanwhile, Premier Ford said a new hospital set to open in Vaughan will be used to relieve a capacity crunch because of rising COVID-19 rates.

Ford said some patients from overcrowded Greater Toronto Area (GTA) hospitals will be transferred to Cortellucci Vaughan Hospital when it opens on Feb. 7.

The hospital will add 35 new critical care beds and 150 medical beds to the province’s bed capacity.

Health Minister Christine Elliott said some Toronto hospitals are already transferring patients to Kingston and Niagara Region to help ease crowding.

With files from The Canadian Press

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