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361 new COVID-19 cases in Ontario as death toll nears 1,800

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A COVID-19 assessment centre at Toronto Western Hospital, a facility that has seen several outbreaks of the illness. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Ontario reported 361 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, a second straight day of increasing case numbers after a six-week low over the weekend.

The additional cases mean the province has now seen 20,907 infections since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus began in late January. Nearly 74 per cent of those cases are now resolved.

The cumulative total includes 3,485 cases that are health-care workers.

Ontario’s official death toll grew to 1,725, an increase of 56 since the last update. Data compiled from regional public health units — a more accurate snapshot of current deaths — puts the real toll at at least 1,776.

Public health officials have tracked a total of 249 COVID-19 outbreaks in long-term care facilities and 98 retirement facilities. Some 1,239 residents have died from COVID-19-linked illness, according to the Ministry of Long-term Care.

The province’s network of labs processed 11,957 additional tests, below the current target of 16,000 tests per day and far less than the 19,525 tests there is capacity for in the system. The backlog of tests waiting to be processed sits at 10, 811.

The number of COVID-19 being treated in hospitals, intensive care units and with ventilators remained relatively stable after several days of fluctuating figures:

  • Hospitalized: 1,025, a decrease of 2.
  • ICUs: 192, a decrease of 2.
  • Ventilators: 146, a drop of 1.

Nurses association calls for sweeping change

Meanwhile, the organization representing Ontario’s nurses says the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for sweeping reforms to the province’s health-care system.

The Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario is updating its previous calls for change in part by incorporating lessons learned from the deadly outbreak.

The Association says the health-care system is too focused on hospitals and should instead concentrate on providing comprehensive primary care for all.

It sets out 13 recommendations in a report dubbed ECCO 3.0.

Those recommendations include a call to integrate long-term care homes in Ontario’s regional health teams to ensure they don’t fall through the cracks of the health-care system.

Other recommendations include extending primary care into settings like homeless shelters, modernizing staffing and housing models in congregate care settings, and expanding primary care to include addiction and mental health services.

“There is a crying need to enhance community care as we take stock of lessons-learned during COVID-19. Precious lives were lost due to weaknesses in our health system, in particular the neglect of congregate settings such as nursing homes, retirement homes and shelters,” the association said in its report.

“We must seize the moment to build a stronger health system for all who call Ontario home.”

CBC News

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