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Coronavirus: Latest developments in the Greater Toronto Area on Feb. 22

Click to play video 'Toronto MOH warns exponential variant growth could hinder pandemic recovery' Toronto MOH warns exponential variant growth could hinder pandemic recovery
WATCH ABOVE: While noting there are some reasons to be optimistic, Toronto officials are very cautious as the city heads into two fresh weeks of lockdown. The rise of tests screening positive for COVID-19 variants is a major concern. Matthew Bingley reports.

Here are the latest developments on the coronavirus pandemic in the Greater Toronto Area for Monday.

York Region no longer under stay-at-home order and joins red zone of pandemic response

Businesses in York Region are allowed to reopen as the public health unit returns to the second-most restrictive red level of public health precautions.

Non-essential retailers and restaurants can welcome customers back, with capacity limits and physical distancing in place.

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York has long logged some of Ontario’s highest COVID-19 case counts, but the region’s chief medical officer of health requested that the province move it back to the tiered framework to bring it in line with most of Ontario’s other public health units.

Read more: York Region no longer under stay-at-home order and joins red zone of pandemic response

Ontario COVID-19 school testing program finds 0.86% positive rate among 3,706 tests

The latest data from the Ontario government’s asymptomatic school testing program continues to show low COVID-19 rates in schools.

All public school boards in the province have now reopened to in-class learning.

Testing took place from the end of January into mid-February where 32 cases were found after 3,706 tests were conducted in Peel Region, Toronto, Hamilton, Ottawa and Sudbury.

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Read more: Coronavirus: Ontario COVID-19 school testing program finds 0.86% positivity rate among 3,706 tests

Canada Post Mississauga worksite hit by COVID-19 outbreak excluded from provincial inspections

Ontario labour inspectors are homing in on warehouses and distribution centres, but the site of a major workplace COVID-19 outbreak isn’t included in the ongoing inspections: Canada Post.

More than 300 employees at the postal service’s Gateway facility in Mississauga have tested positive for COVID-19 since the start of the year and one employee has died.

But because Canada Post is a federally regulated Crown corporation, its inspection falls outside provincial jurisdiction.

Read more: Mississauga Canada Post worksite hit by COVID-19 outbreak excluded from provincial inspections

Vaccines having an impact in Toronto long-term care homes

Toronto Mayor John Tory says vaccinations in the city’s long-term care homes are contributing to a decline in cases among residents.

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“This is the first sign that our vaccination efforts are having a positive and a significant impact,” Tory said during a press conference Monday.

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Tory said Toronto Public Health data shows there was a “substantial decline” in the per cent positivity of tests in the homes, from 10.9 per cent during the week of Nov. 1 to 0.6 per cent as of the week of Feb 7.

Administration of second doses was completed Feb. 16, Tory said.

“This is a good sign when it comes to the effectiveness of the vaccine,” he added.

Over 500 cases in Toronto screen positive for variants

Toronto medical officer of health Dr. Eileen de Villa said Monday that 511 COVID-19 cases have screened positive for variants of concern in the city.

The cases will undergo further testing to confirm whether they are actually variants of concern and, if so, which type.

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De Villa said Toronto has seen 70 confirmed cases of the variant first discovered in the U.K. and one of the strain first found in Brazil.

29 cases screen positive for variant in Toronto homeless shelter outbreak

Twenty-nine COVID-19 cases have screened positive for a variant of concern amid an outbreak at a homeless shelter in Toronto.

Further testing is underway to confirm the strain of the virus.

Officials said the outbreak at the Maxwell Meighen Centre was declared on Feb. 3.

CafeTO registration opens Friday

The first registration period for this year’s CafeTO program will open on Friday, Toronto Mayor John Tory announced.

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“Starting on Friday morning, local restaurant and bar operators interested in expanding their outdoor dining space into the curb lane and onto sidewalks can register online using a clear process,” a City news release said.

Click to play video 'Ontario seniors, family physicians seeking clarity on COVID-19 vaccine rollout' Ontario seniors, family physicians seeking clarity on COVID-19 vaccine rollout
Ontario seniors, family physicians seeking clarity on COVID-19 vaccine rollout

Status of cases in the GTA

Ontario reported a total of 1,058 new coronavirus cases on Monday.

Of those:

  • 325 were in Toronto
  • 215 were in Peel Region
  • 87 were in York Region
  • 45 were in Durham Region
  • 28 were in Halton Region

Ontario reports more than 1,000 new coronavirus cases, 11 more deaths

Ontario is reporting 1,058 new coronavirus cases on Monday, the fifth day in a row daily case counts are above 1,000, bringing the provincial total to 294,144.

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The death toll in the province has risen to 6,872 as 11 more deaths were reported.

Resolved cases increased by 1,083 from the previous day. The government said 31,163 tests were processed in the last 24 hours.

Read more: Ontario reports more than 1,000 new coronavirus cases, 11 more deaths

Cases, deaths and outbreaks in Ontario long-term care homes

According to the Ministry of Long-Term Care, there have been 3,734 deaths reported among residents and patients in long-term care homes across Ontario, which is unchanged. Eleven virus-related deaths in total have been reported among staff.

There are 129 current outbreaks in homes, which is a decrease of one from the previous day.

The ministry also indicated there are currently 126 active cases among long-term care residents and 242 active cases among staff — unchanged and down by four cases, respectively, in the last day.

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Cases among students and staff at Ontario schools, child care centres

Government figures show there have been a total of 7,998 school-related COVID-19 cases in Ontario to date — 5,560 among students and 1,312 among staff (1,126 individuals were not identified). This is an increase of 55 more cases from the previous day —  47 student cases and eight staff cases.

In the last 14 days, the province indicates there were 340 cases reported among students and 66 cases among staff (three individuals were not identified) — totaling 409 cases.

The COVID-19 cases are currently from 278 out of 4,828 schools in the province. Ten schools in Ontario are currently closed as a result of positive cases, the government indicated.

There have been a total of 2,538 confirmed cases within child care centres and homes — an increase of 15 (14 new child cases and one staff case). Out of 5,262 child care centres in Ontario, 133 currently have cases and 16 centres are closed.

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— With files from The Canadian Press