TORONTO — COVID-19 outbreaks have been declared in 40 long-term care homes across Ontario in the past day as positive cases continue to break daily records.
There are now 98 homes in outbreak across the province, provincial data show. There are no residents with COVID-19 in 38 of those nursing homes.
The province deems it an outbreak if a home has at least one lab-confirmed case of COVID-19 in either a resident or staff.
The data show there are 249 residents with COVID-19, up from 186 the day before, and 520 long-term care staff with the virus, up more than 200 cases from Thursday.
The province announced Thursday it has made fourth doses of an mRNA vaccine available immediately to residents of nursing homes, retirement homes, elder care lodges and other congregate care settings if at least three months, or 84 days, have passed since their third dose.
The government said it is mandating third doses for all staff, students, volunteers, caregivers and support workers by Jan. 28, for those currently eligible for a booster.
Also on Thursday, new rules took effect at long-term care homes in the province, putting a pause on access to nursing homes by general visitors and day absences for all residents for social purposes.
Designated caregivers, however, may continue to enter long-term care homes.
Visitors, when they are allowed back in, will be required to provide proof of a booster dose.
"Mandating third vaccine doses for long-term care staff and caregivers and offering fourth doses to residents is an important step our government is taking to protect long-term care staff and residents," said Minister of Long-Term Care Rod Phillips in a statement.
The province said 47 per cent of eligible staff and 86 per cent of eligible residents have received their third dose.
Ontario reported 16,713 new COVID-19 cases and 15 deaths from the virus Friday, again setting a new record for the most cases reported in a single day in the province.
Provincial data show 205 people are currently in intensive care due to COVID-19, including 104 people on ventilators.
In total, the province reported 1,144 people hospitalized with COVID-19.
The province said 81 per cent of all residents aged five and older have received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine and 87 per cent have at least one shot.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 31, 2021.
Liam Casey, The Canadian Press