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Experts say COVID-19 cases are on the rise again in Ontario amid cooling temperatures and the lifting of capacity limits.

But the scientific director for Ontario’s COVID-19 science advisory group says behavioural changes like avoiding crowds, wearing masks and working from home can help steady the course.

Dr. Peter Juni says the rise in daily case counts over the last week comes after the province lifted capacity restrictions on venues like stadiums and restaurants and the weather became cooler, forcing people indoors.

Juni says people may be taking fewer precautions in of light those changes and the high vaccination rate in the province.

The seven-day average for infections has risen to 476 from 362 a week ago, and University of Toronto public health professor Barry Pakes says increasing case numbers were to be expected with the cooler weather and relaxation of public health measures.

Pakes says the trend isn’t too worrying yet but it might mean cases are even higher next month, so people who aren’t vaccinated should get their shots before gathering over the holidays.

The province is reporting 480 new cases of COVID-19 today, along with two more deaths linked to the virus

Health Minister Christine Elliott says 289 of the new cases are among people who aren’t fully vaccinated or have an unknown immunization status.

She says the other 191 cases are in people who are fully vaccinated.

Elliott says 127 people are in intensive care units due to the virus.

More than 11 million Ontarians, or about 85 per cent, have already received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine.

As of Friday, there are 16 patients from Saskatchewan in Ontario hospitals, all of whom are in ICUs.

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