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Ontario reports 413 new COVID-19 cases, 161 patients in ICU

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Eighteen new adult patients with COVID-19 were admitted to ICUs in the province on Wednesday, according to Critical Care Services Ontario. (Evan Mitsui/CBC - image credit)
Eighteen new adult patients with COVID-19 were admitted to ICUs in the province on Wednesday, according to Critical Care Services Ontario. (Evan Mitsui/CBC - image credit)

Ontario reported 413 new cases of COVID-19 and the deaths of four more people with the illness on Thursday.

Today's case count is comparable to last Thursday, when the province logged 417 infections from a similar number of tests.

The seven-day average of daily cases stands at 406, and the additional deaths pushed the official toll to 9,827.

Meanwhile, an organization representing Ontario hospitals says it would like to see a provincial directive requiring all health-care workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

The Ontario Hospital Association shared its position today in a letter responding to Premier Doug Ford's request for input on a possible mandatory vaccination policy for hospital workers.

The association says it recommends a directive that would give employers the flexibility to address implementation issues, like timing and consequences for unvaccinated employees.

It says that would ensure stability of hospital services while such a policy takes effect.

The association recommends the province's chief medical officer review hospitals' implementation of such a policy, if one is brought in, by January to assess whether further action might be needed.

Ford last week asked stakeholders to weigh in on whether a mandatory vaccination policy for hospital workers would impact services.

Ontario: New daily cases of COVID-19

Here are some key pandemic indicators and figures from the government's daily provincial update:

New school-related cases: 94, including 84 students and nine staff members. As of yesterday, just one of Ontario's 4,844 public schools (roughly 0.02 per cent) was closed due to COVID-19.

Patients in ICU with COVID-related illnesses: 161; 107 needed a ventilator. According to Critical Care Services Ontario, 18 more adult patients with COVID-19 were admitted to ICUs yesterday, and the seven-day average of total admissions stands at 162.

Active cases: 3,356, marking 12 days of decreases.

Vaccinations: 22,869 doses were administered by public health units on Wednesday. About 83.5 per cent of eligible Ontarians, those aged 12 and older, have now had two doses of vaccine.

Toronto launching info campaign ahead of child vaccinations

Toronto Public Health is rolling out resources to help parents of young children prepare for the approval of COVID-19 shots.

The city's medical officer of health says clinics for children aged five to 11 are being considered at mass vaccination sites, community clinics and schools.

Dr. Eileen de Villa says she's hopeful vaccines will be approved for that age group in the coming weeks and the city is in planning mode with partners at pharmacies, hospitals, doctors' offices and schools.

The city is also launching a toolkit for parents and guardians to share reliable information about COVID-19 vaccination and address questions about the shots.

De Villa says the city will be running town halls and information sessions for parents in the coming weeks.

Her comments came days after Pfizer-BioNTech asked Health Canada to approve its COVID-19 vaccine for children between the ages of five and 11 — a request the regulator has said it will prioritize reviewing.

Shots can be offered to that age group once the regulator gives the green light.

De Villa says vaccination of children is a well-established practice that has become "clouded" through social media during the pandemic.

"It is important that those with questions are able to get reliable answers to them to fully understand the protection that comes with vaccination," she said at a Wednesday news conference. "The vaccination of children aged five to 11 is safe, protective and necessary."

De Villa said while it's typically true that children don't experience COVID-19 illness the same way adults do, "it is not guaranteed," citing figures from Alberta that showed intensive care admissions among children had risen by 23 per cent since last month.

She also noted that infections among children can spread to others who are vulnerable to severe illness.

"If you have a child who will become eligible for vaccination in the coming weeks, please get them vaccinated,' she said.

"You are protecting them, you are protecting your family and yourself and you are protecting grandparents and elders who could become sick."

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