Ontario's COVID-19 death toll hits 18 as caseload approaches 1,000

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A drop in the rate of new COVID-19 cases in Ontario is a “pleasant surprise” but the upcoming week will be critical in the province’s effort to control the spread of the coronavirus, Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams says.

“The deaths, unfortunately, are continuing,” Williams said Friday.

The number of Ontarians who have died after contracting COVID-19 is now 18 — up from 15 one day earlier.

Ontario Associate Medical Officer of Health Dr. Barbara Yaffe said two of the people who died were residents of Pinecrest Nursing Home in Bobcaygeon and a third victim is a woman in her 80s from York Region.

Ontario public health officials released new numbers Friday — 993 confirmed cases, up 135 cases in one day.

That’s a smaller one-day increase then the previous day when the caseload jumped by 170.

The numbers suggest public health is gaining ground on the backlog of people waiting for tests or test results, but there are still 10,074 cases under investigation.

In all, 41,032 people have been approved for COVID-19 tests and 29,967 have tested negative.

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Travel, especially to the United States, continued to be a source of infection.

However, 16% of the new cases did not have a travel history or contact with a known case.

“Evidence of community transmission,” Yaffe said.

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In about 40% of the confirmed cases, it has been difficult to track down the source because people struggle to remember everywhere they’ve been and everyone they’ve met over the past 14 days, Yaffe said.

Williams and Yaffe offered advice to Ontarians to avoid contracting and spreading the illness, including washing hands after handling cash and buying your lottery tickets online.

People over 70 with health conditions, if possible, should get others to do their shopping for them, Williams said.

“We want to look out for our vulnerable populations amongst us,” he said.

aartuso@postmedia.ca

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