Today, Mayor John Tory, Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa and Fire Chief and General Manager of the Office of Emergency Management Matthew Pegg announced the City is requesting that Toronto remain in the Shutdown Zone under the provincial Lockdown Regulation and subject to the Stay-at-Home Order until March 9 at the earliest in order to protect the healthcare system and save lives. There are now at least 40 lab-confirmed cases of the B.1.1.7 variant, which first originated in the United Kingdom, and five cases of the B.1.351 variant, which was first found in South Africa.
I'm not sure why, and I say that with a full understanding of where we are now and that there are fears of a possible third wave.
Medical officers of health for Toronto and Peel have asked Ontario's top doctor to keep the stay-at-home order in place until at least March 9.
She warned the variant case count numbers don't sound or look so bad right now, but it's just the tip of the iceberg.
However, Public Health Ontario is now conducting whole genome sequencing on 341 other cases that have screened positive for a mutation.
Loh and de Villa have requested the province keep their regions in strict lockdown for another two weeks. It reported 800 new infections and five fewer COVID-19 patients in hospital than a day earlier.
The government also said Lambton Public Health will move from the orange zone to the red zone "as a result worsening public health trends in the region over the past week".
"I don't think I can be any more concerned", Miller said.
There have been 290,771 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ontario since the pandemic began, 273,401 of which have been resolved and 6,820 that have led to death.
Miller said vaccinations have started in 400 Indigenous communities.
Miller said vaccines have been delivered to about a quarter of the adult population in First Nations, Inuit and territorial communities, a rate that is six times higher than that of the general population.
"I'm not expecting to not get our wishes, but ultimately it is the province's decision", he said in an interview Thursday. These cases are undergoing genomic sequencing to confirm and identify which variant they are, Loh said.
Keeping the current measures in place for a sufficient period after the reopening of schools allows local public health to mitigate the risk to students and staff as they return to in-person learning.
Kurji also noted at least one case where a variant of the virus spread between people when a nail technician performed services in customers homes, going against current regulations.
There were 10 new deaths reported across Ontario on Wednesday - down from a daily peak of 100 a month ago.
In B.C., there were 427 new cases and three more deaths. Alberta officials said there were 277 new cases and seven deaths, and a total of 225 cases with variants were detected.
In Toronto, the city's top doctor echoed some of those concerns on Wednesday, saying she has "never been as concerned about the threat of COVID-19 to (residents') health as I am now".