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Ontario’s science advisers say the province’s ability to control the spread of COVID-19 variants over the next few weeks will determine if there will be a third wave of infection.

The province’s Science Advisory Table says residents must continue masking and physical distancing even as vaccinations increase in order to prevent further cases of the more contagious variants.

The group says that while the drive to vaccinate residents and workers in long-term care has paid off in declining deaths and illness, progress against the virus has stalled outside that sector.

Declines in community cases and test positivity rates have levelled off as mobility rates jump in the aftermath of a provincial lockdown lifting.

The group says the actions of people over the new few weeks will determine the quality of summer in Ontario.

Meanwhile, Sudbury, Ont., will move into lockdown tomorrow after a large spike in COVID-19 cases.

The government says it’s placing the region in the strictest category of Ontario’s pandemic restrictions framework to curb the spread of more contagious COVID-19 variants and protect health system capacity.

Sudbury has been in the second-strictest “red” category of the framework and the province is using its “emergency brake” mechanism to impose the lockdown.

The government says the Sudbury region’s case rates increased by 54 per cent between March 3 and March 9, to 75.9 cases per 100,000 people.

The lockdown will take effect in the Sudbury and Districts public health region Friday at 12:01 a.m.

The emergency brake measure was applied in the Thunder Bay and Simcoe Muskoka areas last month, moving those regions into lockdown from less restrictive levels of the framework after worrying pandemic trends emerged.

Meanwhile, mayors in Peel Region are asking the province to further loosen restrictions in their communities days after a stay-at-home order was lifted.

Peel Region – made up of Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon – was moved into the strictest “grey lockdown” category of the province’s pandemic framework on Monday, following nearly two months under the stay-at-home order.

That meant non-essential retailers could reopen with capacity limits, although gyms, personal care services and indoor restaurant dining remain closed.

The mayor of Mississauga is calling for her city to now be moved to the second-strictest “red” category of the framework, without or without the other communities in Peel.

Brampton’s mayor also says Peel should be placed into the “red” zone and councillors in his city voted to ask the province to make that move as soon as possible.

Being in the “red” zone would allow gyms to reopen with capacity limits and indoor restaurant dining and personal care services to also resume with restrictions.

Peel’s top doctor, Dr. Lawrence Loh had called for the region to be placed in the “grey” zone, saying it would preserve the progress made in the fight against the virus.

Ontario reported 1,092 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday and 10 more deaths linked to the virus.

Health Minister Christine Elliott says there are 293 new cases in Toronto, 199 in Peel Region, and 79 in York Region.

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