Ontario reported 2,336 additional cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday along with 14 more deaths, as hospitalizations climbed to their highest point in nearly two months.
There were almost 1,100 people in hospital on Monday night due to coronavirus infection, the highest count since Feb. 4.
Ontario reported nearly 7,500 cases of COVID-19 over the past three days, including 2,094 on Monday.
There are now 19,810 active known cases of coronavirus infection across the province, up from 15,000 one week ago.
The seven-day rolling average of new cases now stands at 2,207, up from 1,667 one week ago.
At least 7,351 people are known to have died of COVID-19 since March 2020.
“Locally, there are 727 new cases in Toronto, 434 in Peel, 229 in York Region, 194 in Durham, 144 in Ottawa and 123 in Hamilton,” Health Minister Christine Elliott wrote on Twitter.
On Tuesday, four additional deaths were reported among residents of the long-term care system.
Provincial labs processed 36,071 test specimens in the past 24 hours, generating a positivity rate of at least 6.2 per cent.
A new research paper from the Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table found that cases involving variants of concern generate 60 per cent more hospitalizations than cases caused by earlier strains of the virus, as well as a 56 per cent higher chance of death.
Fifty-two per cent of positive cases detected on Tuesday screened positive for a variant of concern, Public Health Ontario said.
The increase in hospitalization risk poses a grave threat for the province’s hospital system in April.
The Ministry of Health said Tuesday there were 1,090 people in hospital seeking treatment for COVID-19, with 387 in intensive care and 249 breathing with the help of a ventilator.
A Toronto ICU doctor citing data from Critical Care Services Ontario said there were 410 people in hospital intensive care units due to COVID-19 at midnight Tuesday, including 46 admissions in the past 24 hours.
A second Toronto ICU physician said hospitals were ordered Monday to prepare to “surge” the capacity of their ICUs to 115 per cent of normal.
Warner told CP24 the new directive means his ICU must grow from 17 beds to 19 beds.
“We have 17 beds – we need to get to 19 beds. But I can’t staff 17 beds today.”
He said nurses and other staff would have to be pulled from other areas of the hospital in order to expand capacity.
The province says another 71,000 COVID-19 vaccine shots were administered up until Monday evening.
This brings the total number of shots administered in Ontario to more than 2.1 million.