COVID-19: Ontario reports 653 new cases, 79 in Ottawa

Author of the article:

Taylor Blewett

A nurse tends to her patients in one of the COVID-19 units at the Queensway Carleton Hospital.
A nurse tends to her patients in one of the COVID-19 units at the Queensway Carleton Hospital. Photo by Julie Oliver /Postmedia / File photo

Ontario reported 653 new COVID-19 cases Sunday, with 499 in people who aren’t fully vaccinated or have an unknown vaccination status, and 154 cases in those fully vaccinated.


The seven-day average in Ontario was 621 daily cases. The number of COVID-19 deaths on Ontario rose by six, with three new deaths reported and the remainder from data clean-up.

Those in hospital testing positive for COVID-19 numbered at least 198 (not all hospitals report on weekends), while the number of people in ICU due to COVID-19 totalled 177, including those no longer testing positive.

Eighty per cent of Ontarians aged 12 and older have received two doses of COVID-19 vaccine, while six per cent have one dose and 14 per cent are unvaccinated.

In terms of active cases, the hardest-hit public health unit regions in Ontario as of Sunday were Eastern Ontario (94.8 per 100,000 people), Chatham-Kent (94.1 per 100,000), Brant County (77.3 per 100,000), Windsor-Essex (72), and Hamilton (54.6).


For the health unit regions surrounding Ottawa, the province reported 33 additional cases logged in Eastern Ontario, which includes Cornwall, Hawkesbury, and Casselman, five in both Hastings Prince Edward and Leeds, Grenville & Lanark, and three in both Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington and Renfrew County and District.

Ottawa Public Health reported 79 additional cases, and no new deaths Sunday. There were 474 active cases city-wide, and 15 Ottawans in hospital, with eight in ICU.

Over the latest seven-day period (Sept. 19 to 24), a total of 365 new cases were reported to OPH, for a daily average of 52. That’s an increase compared to July, which saw seven-day averages in the single-digits, but nowhere near the worst of the third wave in the spring, when a few hundred cases were being reported to OPH daily. Hospitalizations are also up, compared to the summer, but not by much.


Looking at those eligible for vaccination, the health unit reports a much lower rate of COVID among the fully vaccinated, compared to those with partial or no vaccine protection.

Two new school outbreaks were reported Sunday: one involving five students or visitors at École élémentaire catholique La Vérendrye, and the other involving three students or visitors at St. Benedict Elementary School.

OPH reported 17 ongoing outbreaks in schools or child care centres, four in local health/LTC/congregate living institutions, and one in the community, linked to a private social event.

Experts say Ontario case counts lower than expected this fall so far

Ontario’s daily COVID-19 case counts are lower than what many experts had expected by now, and while they point to a number of factors for the relative relief, they say now is not the time to ease up on those measures.


For much of the summer, the province’s chief medical officer of health warned of a September surge, followed by a bleak fall and winter. That has not materialized – yet – as the daily case counts remain under 1,000 and the graph of Ontario’s seven-day average roughly shows a plateau since the beginning of September.

That’s well under the worst-case scenario in Ontario’s most recent modelling, which showed about 4,000 daily cases by now. Reality is more in line with the best-case scenario, in which cases would have steadily fallen since Sept. 1.

Dr. Zain Chagla, an infectious disease physician at St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton, said hospitalizations and ICU admissions are also stable even without more restrictions being introduced – noting the proof-of-vaccination system only took effect a few days ago.


“There is a little bit of cautious optimism in that with society being more open, kids back to school, all of the things that we…would have concerns about leading to escalating transmission, we’re not seeing,” he said.

In Alberta, there are more than 10 times the number of active COVID-19 cases per capita than Ontario. Hospitals there are overwhelmed and the head of the Alberta Medical Association says major components of triage have already started.

Chagla noted that Alberta’s vaccination rate is not substantially lower than Ontario’s. What he sees as the major reason for Ontario’s relatively lower numbers is the different approach to public health measures.

In July, Alberta lifted its restrictions, including gathering limits and a mask mandate, while in Ontario a few weeks later, the government announced that it would delay any further lifting of restrictions. Masks were still going to be required even when the province moved out of Step 3 of its reopening.


COVID-19 in Quebec

Quebec reported 719 new COVID-19 cases Sunday, with two more deaths related to the virus.

Health authorities say hospitalizations dropped by four from Saturday’s levels to 297, while the number of patients in intensive care remains steady at 90.

The seven-day average of cases is 703.

The Health Department says of the latest reported infections, 507 were among people who were either unvaccinated or who had only received a first dose within the past two weeks.

According to the province’s public health institute, about 89 per cent of Quebecers aged 12 and older have received at least one dose, while 84 per cent are considered fully vaccinated with two shots.

  U.S. health system in trouble in some states


Parts of the U.S. health system “are in dire straits,” as the spread of the COVID-19 delta variant forces some states to prepare for rationed medical care, said Rochelle Walensky, head of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“That means that we are talking about who is going to get a ventilator, who is going to get an ICU bed,” Walensky said on CBS’s Face the Nation on Sunday. “Those are not easy discussions to have, and that is not a place we want our health care system to ever be.”

Idaho, among the U.S.’s least-vaccinated states, and Alaska have said that hospitals can begin to ration medical care if needed.

A major hospital in Montana also implemented so-called “crisis of care standards” to prioritize who is treated. Health officials warned the measure could be widened across the state.


Pfizer says data on vaccine for kids coming soon

Pfizer Inc. said it would submit data to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on vaccines for children ages 5 to 11 within “days, not weeks,” Albert Bourla, the company’s CEO, said on ABC’s “This Week.”

“If they approve it, we will be ready with our manufacturing to provide this new formulation of the vaccine,” he said.

He said the dosage for young children is one-third that of the vaccine for adults.

Last week Pfizer and BioNTech said that formulation produced strong antibody responses in children in a large-scale trial. Pfizer Canada said it plans to provide Health Canada with data showing its COVID-19 vaccine works for children in a bid to seek authorization “as early as possible.”

with files from the Canadian Press and Reuters

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