Second dose eligibility expanded in some regions

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Ontario's science advisory table released new projections on Thursday on the eve of the province's partial reopening.

COVID-19 cases in Ontario are dropping sharply and while the threat of a fourth wave caused by the delta variant still exists it is unlikely, health officials say. "With less opportunities for transmission, there is less chance the variant can spread".

According to the modelling, cases should continue to decline for at least the next 10 days in Ontario. By late July Ontario would be seeing around 800 or 900 new cases, though the numbers would start to taper off as the calendar headed for August.

"We've turned the corner in our progress against the pandemic", Science table co-chair Dr. Adalsteinn Brown said.

In a worst case scenario, cases will spike to 2,500 per day by the middle of August.

"This is not a doomsday scenario ..." "To be clear, we're not out of the woods just yet". "In fact the reproduction number for the Delta variant has been below one for a few days now".

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A strong second-dose strategy in hotspot communities is needed to avoid a surge in Delta cases, the modellers say.

The Delta variant, which is more transmissible and could be more risky, will likely be the dominant strain of the virus this summer.

"With an increased supply of vaccines, we continue to make it easier than ever to receive a vaccine to help protect those most at risk against COVID-19 variants, stop the spread and protect our hospital capacity", said Minister of Health Christine Elliott. The province now has 450 patients in the ICU.

But it does provide further hope that life could soon return to something approaching normal, even in Ontario's overburdened hospitals.

Latest data also show Ontario has now surpassed both the U.S. and U.K.in relative terms when it comes to the percentage of the population who have received one dose of a COVID vaccine. Brown indicating that early data suggests the risk of hospitalization when someone is infected with this variants is increased. Brown said, stressing that Ontario ICUs have more patients than the peak of the second wave.

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