Ontario reported 530 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday, up from 502 new infections on Saturday. The province is reporting an additional seven deaths.
The seven-day average of daily cases, which smooths out peaks and valleys in the data, fell to 514, its lowest point in more than eight months.
The new cases include 102 in Toronto, 97 in Waterloo, 81 in Peel Region, 68 in the Porcupine Health Unit, 24 in Hamilton, and 24 in Ottawa, according to Health Minister Christine Elliott.
Toronto, Peel Region, Waterloo, and Porcupine have all been identified as hot spots for the delta variant. That means, people in those areas who received a first dose of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine on or before May 9 will be eligible starting Monday morning to book in for a second dose earlier than anticipated.
Other delta variant hot spots include York Region, Halton Region, and Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph.
Ontario speeds up timeline for 2nd dose of AstraZeneca vaccine
As of 8 p.m. on Saturday, a total of 11,208,867 COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered provincewide.
The number of fully vaccinated Ontarians, meaning those who have had both doses of a vaccine, has now reached nearly 1.8 million.
That will likely increase as the province announced Saturday that those who received their first shot of AstraZeneca will be able to get their second dose after eight weeks, rather than the previously required 12-week wait period.
“This decision is based on emerging clinical evidence about the administration of two doses of different vaccines, as supported by the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI),” the province said in a statement issued on Saturday.
The change followed more than 3,400 people signing an online petition urging Ontario to fall in line with other provinces and shorten the interval.
Experts continue to urge people to get vaccinated.
“Any population that isn’t vaccinated is a tinderbox that’s waiting to explode and drive lots of cases and hospitalizations and new variants,” Alyson Kelvin, an assistant professor at Dalhousie University and virologist at the Canadian Center for Vaccinology and the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization, told CBC News earlier this week.
“The best thing that we can do is stick to a vaccination plan and keep going with it until our entire population is covered by not just one, but two doses. That’s going to be the most effective strategy — not trying to get too caught up in the drama of a new variant.”
In-vehicle driving tests to resume Monday
Ontario marked the first weekend out of lockdown by announcing that in-vehicle driving tests will resume on Monday after a more than two month pause.
“As more people get vaccinated and COVID-19 case numbers decline, we are able to safely restart passenger road testing at DriveTest centres,” the ministry said. More information is available at DriveTest.ca.
Now that the province is in stage one of its most recent reopening plan, people can now gather outdoors in groups of up to 10.
People are also allowed to dine on patios in groups of up to four people per table.
Non-essential stores have also been given the greenlight to reopen at 15 per cent capacity.