Skip to main content
Canada’s most-awarded newsroom for a reason
Enjoy unlimited digital access
$1.99
per week
for 24 weeks
Canada’s most-awarded newsroom for a reason
$1.99
per week
for 24 weeks
// //

A nurse guides people at a COVID-19 testing centre, in Toronto, on Dec. 10, 2020.

CHRIS HELGREN/Reuters

Ontario has entered the third wave of COVID-19 as more transmissible virus variants account for almost half of new cases, the province’s science advisers warned Tuesday.

The Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table said new data shows variants of concern are now driving pandemic growth, accounting for 733 of 1,489 total cases on March 15.

The group, which provides independent advice and analysis to the Progressive Conservative government, said that growth is taking place across the province.

Story continues below advertisement

“So, here we are: Ontario’s Third Wave,” the group posted to social media Tuesday. “Sadly, we are in fact ‘all in this together’. Ontario is organized into 34 public health units; almost two-thirds are now experiencing exponential growth of (COVID-19).”

The findings come a day after the province’s top doctor said that Ontario could be going into a third wave but the extent of it was still developing.

“You can always tell you’re in it after it’s over,” Dr. David Williams said Monday. “I would say we are into that base of a third wave. What does that mean, how big it is, that’s to be determined.”

Premier Doug Ford said Tuesday that he will wait for Williams’ advice on the matter, but stressed people must continue to follow public health guidance even as more vaccines are administered.

“We can’t let our guard down for a second,” he said. “We have to be very, very cautious moving forward.”

Canada vaccine tracker: How many COVID-19 doses have been administered so far?

COVID-19 news: Updates and essential resources about the pandemic

Canada’s chief medical officer of health said Ontario has come to an “inflection point” in the pandemic after the province seemed to bring its second wave under control.

“What happens from this point on actually depends on the actions that are taken, as to whether this is a little bump or whether things might take off,” Dr. Theresa Tam said.

Story continues below advertisement

The Ontario Hospital Association said Monday that it believes province is now in a third wave, citing data from the science advisory group and saying the number of patients in intensive care is trending up.

The CEO of the Ontario Registered Nurses’ Association said the government lifted a stay-at-home order too soon, allowing the virus variants to spread.

Doris Grinspun said she fears the province will need to move back into lockdown.

“We need to be zeroing in 100 per cent on the vaccine now because this is our saving grace,” she said. “We are slow on the vaccines and we are quickly moving into the third wave. It’s a colliding disaster.”

Ontario Premier Doug Ford says people across the province can’t let their guard down as the province’s science advisers warn of a third wave of COVID-19. Ford said that people must continue to follow public-health guidance even as vaccines become more widely available. The Canadian Press

The new data comes one day after the province launched a new COVID-19 vaccine online booking portal and call centre.

The province said Tuesday that 133,000 aged 80 and older booked their COVID-19 vaccine appointments Monday despite technical issues with the website and long wait times to get through to the call centre.

Story continues below advertisement

On Tuesday, an additional 21,000 appointments were booked by noon.

Toronto’s associate medical officer of health said cases in the city had been plateauing before the current upswing.

Dr. Vinita Dubey said defining the trend as a third wave depends on whether the increase is sustained.

“The variants are on the rise, that is for sure,” she said. “And if we see more cases, you can expect to see then the hospitalizations and deaths to be associated except where people are vaccinated.”

She pointed to the effective vaccination effort in long-term care homes and resulting drop in COVID-19 cases.

“Hopefully, as we approach another wave, we will have this protection around some of our most vulnerable to help prevent some of those severe outcomes,” she said.

Story continues below advertisement

Ontario reported 1,074 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday and 11 more deaths linked to the virus.

Another 51,579 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine were administered in Ontario since the last update.

Meanwhile, an all-boys private school in Toronto has temporarily moved all classes online after several students tested positive for COVID-19.

Upper Canada College says there have been 10 cases of the illness in students in grades 4, 8 and 12.

But it says there is no confirmation that the cases are a result of transmission within the school.

The school says holding remote learning until next week is a voluntary, precautionary measure to safeguard students, employees and the broader community.

Story continues below advertisement

With files from Holly McKenzie-Sutter.

Canada's top doctor Theresa Tam says there is a need to collect and analyze data on the new variants of the virus that causes COVID-19 to avoid new outbreaks. Tam says looking at the data coming from other countries is important but is not enough. The Canadian Press

Sign up for the Coronavirus Update newsletter to read the day’s essential coronavirus news, features and explainers written by Globe reporters and editors.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies