Sun. Oct 17th, 2021

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Premier Doug Ford is due to deliver an update of the COVID-19 vaccine certificate and verification app Friday morning.

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The Prime Minister’s Office said he would be joined by Health Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Christine Elliott, Kaleed Rasheed, Deputy Minister of Digital Government, and Dr. Kieran Moore, Chief Physician of Health.

The province is expected to announce the launch of its vaccination control app, Verify Ontario, on Friday. The app, which allows companies to scan customers’ vaccination QR codes, is already available for download on Apple and Google app stores. The QR codes will be provided to residents by the Ontario Department of Health.

The province had previously said the digital verification program would take effect on October 22nd.

Meanwhile, a senior government source in Ontario says the province will soon announce a plan to end capacity constraints in places like restaurants and gyms.

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The source, who was not authorized to speak publicly about the pending announcement, said the province will release a plan late next week to leave Ontario’s framework for reopening, which will include details on when more capacity limits can be lifted.

Business groups have been frustrated and angry since the government announced last week that it raised capacity limits for some options that require proof of vaccination, but not others.

Cinemas, theaters, concert venues, meeting and event venues and spectator sports venues were allowed to open with 100 percent capacity from Saturday, and physical distance is mostly not required.

The Canadian Association of Independent Businesses and the Ontario Chamber of Commerce said they did not understand why capacity limits could be raised at the big venues, but not at small businesses like restaurants and gyms.

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CFIB says small business owners are wondering why the Toronto Maple Leafs and Ottawa Senators can wrap fans at full capacity while a bowling alley cannot open more than half of its lanes.

Ontario reported 417 new COVID-19 cases Thursday and three new deaths.

Toronto, with 69 new cases, was the province’s area hardest hit.

The Eastern Ontario Health Unit, which includes Cornwall and Hawkesbury, was not far behind with 55 new cases followed by Peel’s 43 and Hamilton’s 30.

At a briefing Wednesday, Eastern Ontario Health Regional Health Officer Dr. Paul Roumeliotis that the majority of the new cases — 36 of them — stem from an outbreak at the Résidence St-François guest house in Casselman. It is believed that the outbreak was initiated due to an employee.

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Cornwall Community Hospital on Wednesday announced that it is temporarily closing operating rooms to prioritize urgent and high-priority elective surgeries as the hospital treats ever-increasing patient volumes due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The hospital said the surgeries to be scheduled in the coming weeks will only be reserved for life-threatening cancers, patients with life or limbs or high-priority surgeries based on the surgeon’s assessment of the patient’s quality of life.

The facility said the change would allow the CCH to protect its available beds and resources for emergencies and a range of non-COVID-related health needs.

The new figures bring the province’s total number of cases to 593,437 and the number of deaths to 9,807.

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In addition to the Eastern Ontario Health Unit’s 55 new cases, other increases in the region included five cases in Kingston, three in Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District, and one in Renfrew County.

There are 13,829 active cases in the province.

Of the most recent positive cases where vaccination status is known, 65 percent were among those who were not fully vaccinated, while 35 percent occurred among those who had received both shots.

The province also reported 254 patients hospitalized with COVID-related conditions. According to the PHO, 158 patients of them were on intensive care, 101 on ventilators.

Meanwhile, 28,756 vaccine doses were administered in the province in the 24 hours ending Wednesday night, for a province-wide total of 22,148,068. A total of 10,775,345 Ontario residents are fully vaccinated.

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Of those in the hospital whose vaccination status has been identified, 72 percent are unvaccinated and seven percent are only partially vaccinated. At ICUs, 77 percent were unvaccinated and a further seven percent were only partially vaccinated.

Latest COVID-19 news from Ottawa

Ottawa Public Health reported 23 new COVID-19 cases and no new deaths Thursday, bringing the total number of cases in the city to 30,382 since the pandemic started, while the death toll was 601.

There are 276 active cases in Ottawa. Of those, eight are in the hospital with COVID, five in intensive care.

In addition, two new outbreaks were reported Thursday, with two cases identified at both Fielding Drive Public School and Chapman Mills Elementary School. There are currently nine active outbreaks in Ottawa, two in communities and seven in schools or day care centers.

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The city’s seven-day infection rate, meanwhile, is 23.3 per. 100,000 inhabitants, while the most recently reported seven-day positivity is 1.8 percent. The seven-day reproduction rate, R

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