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Ford to speak as Ontario reports 315 new COVID-19 cases, set to lower limits on social gatherings

Premier Doug Ford is scheduled to hold his daily news conference beginning at 1 p.m. ET in Toronto. Ford’s office says he will be joined by a few ministers, including Minister of Health Christine Elliott.

Ontario will lower the limits on social gatherings in a bid to stem a recent increase in COVID-19 cases.

Premier Doug Ford’s office has confirmed the move but won’t say when the new health guidelines will be available.

The current limit on social gatherings is 50 people indoors and 100 outdoors.

Provincial health officials have attributed the spike in cases largely to people not following public health guidelines at social gatherings.

Ford has promised to take action in the regions where most of the cases have emerged — Toronto, Peel, and Ottawa.

He has also not ruled out further lockdowns in those areas if virus case numbers aren’t brought under control.

Ontario reported another 315 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday — more than half of which are in people under 40.

In a series of tweets, Health Minister Christine Elliott said 64 per cent of Wednesday’s cases were in that age bracket.

Ontario reported an additional 315 cases of COVID-19 Wednesday, bringing the province’s total number of cases to 45,383 since the outbreak began in late January. (Lars Hagberg/The Canadian Press)

Of the province’s 34 health units, 25 are reporting five or fewer cases, and 12 regions saw no new cases at all.

The majority of the cases are now concentrated in five different health units.

Toronto, Ottawa and Peel continue to record the highest number of daily case counts with 77, 61, and 54 cases respectively. York region also reported 37 cases today and Durham has 24.

Long lines at testing centres

With the numbers continuing to trend upward, lines outside testing centres have grown longer in recent days.

At St. Joseph’s Health Centre in Toronto, some were waiting nearly three hours to get a test.

WATCH | Man waits 2 hours for COVID-19 test so he can accompany wife on hospital visit:

James Koziak arrived at the St. Joseph’s Health Centre at 6:45 a.m for a test and still had to wait two hours. 0:35

It took James Koziak two hours to be tested, and he was one of the lucky ones. 

Koziak’s wife is in a long-term care facility. He’s been tested six times before, but arrived early at 6:45 a.m. to beat the crowd so he could produce a negative test in order to accompany her on an upcoming hospital visit.

“I came here yesterday afternoon, saw the bloody lineup and I knew I had to be here really early.

“I just cannot believe in Canada that someone would have to go through this,” he said, his voice breaking.  

Ontario cases rising since mid-August

Cases have been on an upswing since mid-August, with numbers topping 200 a day since Sept. 12. Wednesday’s update brings the province’s total to 45,383 cases of the virus since the outbreak first began in late January. 

Ontario also recorded an additional two deaths, bringing the province’s official toll to 2,822. Just under a third of the total number of deaths are in those aged 80 and over. A more up to date death toll, according to data collected by CBC News from the province’s local health units, stands at 2,862. 

Hospitalization numbers remain relatively similar to Tuesday’s with 44 patients currently admitted to the hospital for the novel coronavirus.

Twenty of those patients are being treated in intensive care and 12 are on a ventilator. In total, the province currently has 2,316 active, confirmed cases of COVID-19. 

Almost 29,000 tests for the virus were processed on Tuesday in Ontario’s network of labs. 

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