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Ontario hospitals are being instructed to ramp down elective surgeries and non-urgent procedures in order to treat a growing number of COVID-19 patients.

Ontario Health’s president and CEO sent a memo Thursday night instructing hospitals to make the move to preserve critical care and human resources, starting Monday.

Hospitals in northern Ontario are exempt but Matthew Anderson says they should prepare to ramp down quickly in the near future.

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The memo from the body that oversees the province’s health system also asks hospitals to identify staff who may be redeployed to other sites if necessary.

Anderson says the measures are necessary given “mounting and extreme pressure on our critical care capacity” due to increasing COVID-19 case counts.

He says Ontario Health will continue to monitor the situation with a view to bring back surgical capacity for deferred services as soon as possible.

Ontario is reporting 4,227 new cases of COVID-19 today and 18 additional deaths from the virus.

Health Minister Christine Elliott said there are 1,218 new cases in Toronto, 762 in Peel Region, and 532 in York Region.

She also said there are 247 new cases in Durham Region and 246 in Ottawa.

More than 61,410 tests were completed since the last report.

There are 1,492 people hospitalized in Ontario because of COVID-19, with 552 in intensive care and 344 on a ventilator.

Ontario says that 105,382 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine were administered in the province since Thursday’s report.

It’s the third straight day more than 100,000 vaccines have been given out in the province.

A total of 2,940,166 vaccine doses have been given in Ontario so far.

Meanwhile, Ontario Premier Doug Ford received his first dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine at a Toronto pharmacy on Friday morning.

He said he wanted to get the shot in front of media to help encourage people to get immunized and combat vaccine hesitancy.

The premier has set a goal of getting 40 per cent of Ontarians – or 5 million people – their first dose over the next month.

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