Toronto now has 70 cases of the UK COVID-19 variant of concern B.1.1.7 and one case of the Brazilian variant — Significant drop in COVID-19 case positivity in LTC homes is encouraging
TORONTO, ON., FEB. 22, 2021 — 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 provided an update on the City’s measures to combat the resurgence of the virus in Toronto.
Since the start of the pandemic there have been a total of 95,293 cases of COVID-19 in the city, an increase of 366 new cases today. There are 337 people hospitalized. To date, there have been 2,616 COVID-19 deaths in Toronto. In total, 88,746 people have recovered. Case status data can be found on the City’s reporting platform.
Today, Mayor Tory and Dr. de Villa delivered encouraging news about vaccines and the situation in Toronto’s long-term care homes. Toronto Public Health has seen a substantial decline in testing positivity rates among long-term care home residents in the city. Testing positivity in homes has fallen from 10.9 per cent in November, to 0.6 per cent as of the week of February 7.
Further, Public Health Scotland has issued a study showing that, by the fourth week after receiving an initial dose, the Pfizer vaccine reduced the risk of hospitalization from COVID-19 by up to 85 per cent, with protection for those age 80 and over at 80 per cent. The study also found the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine reduced the risk of hospitalization by up to 94 per cent. The findings, coupled with the significant drop in COVID-19 case positivity in long-term care homes in the city, demonstrate that vaccines and the efforts of people and organizations to safeguard vulnerable residents are having a significant and positive impact.
While there is reason for cautious optimism, Dr. de Villa also reported 70 cases of the United Kingdom COVID-19 variant of concern B.1.1.7 – almost double the number of cases in the city as of one week ago – and one case of the Brazilian variant. A variant of concern is a mutation of the SARS-CoV-2 genome that has been reported to spread more easily, may affect the efficacy vaccines and, in some cases, has been linked to increased risk of hospitalization and death. The Medical Officer of Health explained that while variants of concern spread faster, they can be slower to confirm in positive cases of COVID-19, which is why it is imperative to continue following public health advice to stay home as much as possible, wear a mask when out in public, wash hands often and stay home if you are sick.
Toronto remains in the Shutdown Zone under the provincial Lockdown Regulation and subject to a Stay-at-Home Order until at least March 9. Please review the City’s simple “Dos” and “Don’ts” guide for recommended and mandatory public health measures. The guide communicates some of what is and what is not permitted under provincial regulations and City bylaws. The guide can be found at toronto.ca/lockdownguide.