OPHA: Northern Lockdown and School Online Learning Extended (Jan. 7)

Your COVID-19 Summary for Jan. 7th – Northern Lockdown and School Online Learning Extended

Dear OPHA Members, 

Here’s your summary of the key announcements and messages conveyed today by our political and public health leaders related to COVID-19.  


Provincial Developments:

  • Ontario has recorded another-single day record with 3,519 people reported as being newly infected. Sadly, 89 more people lost their lives, marking the highest daily count of deaths in the province due to the pandemic.
  • Ontario’s Provincial Outbreak Response Coordinator, Dr. Huyer said the public health restrictions brought in over the holiday break haven’t brought case numbers down. He noted “the numbers keep going up despite the provincial lockdown that’s been put in place.”
  • Ontario’s Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Williams, announced that the shutdown in seven public health unit regions in Northern Ontario will be extended another two weeks until at least January 23rd rather than end this weekend as originally planned. This is in line with the lockdown timeframe for other parts of the province.
  • Dr. Williams also announced that schools in Southern Ontario will remain online for an additional two weeks until January 25th. In person learning for schools in Northern Ontario will resume January 11th.

More details are included below along with an update on cases in Ontario and across Canada.

Provincial Developments:

Ontario Extends Teacher-Led Online Learning in Southern Ontario:

  • In response to increasing community transmission, in-person learning will be deferred to January 25, 2021 in Southern Ontario, which aligns with the planned return of in-person learning for secondary school students in that region.
  • Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Williams said he has asked the Deputy Minister of Health to make sure that childcare will be made available to emergency and essential workers as many of them are mothers with school aged children.
  • Elementary students and secondary students in the seven Northern Ontario public health unit regions will proceed with returning to in-person learning on January 11th.
  • Dr. Williams said the reason schools in Northern Ontario will reopen sooner is that community transmissions rates are low and, because of geographical location, they have less infrastructure for virtual learning. 
  • Education Minister Lecce said in a written statement that while he is “committed to getting students back into class as soon as possible…the best medical and scientific experts have been clear: while schools have been safe places for kids, the sharp rise in community transmission puts that progress and Ontario families at risk.” 
  • Premier Ford noted that the positivity rate for kids aged 12-13 years old increased from 5.44 per cent in late November, early December to nearly 20 per cent in early January.

Increase in Cases:

  • Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Williams noted “this has been a significant week for us….besides the surpassing 200,000 COVID-19 confirmed cases in Ontario since the pandemic began, we are also noting that today is our highest [count] in a single day with 3,519 cases reported…. we were hoping that by now we’d start to see those numbers coming down and, in fact it’s going the other way.” 
  • Dr. Williams noted “unfortunately, we have recorded our highest number of deaths in a single day, 89…and while our modellers had said we would see that occurring, we did not want we to see it go up that soon, that high.”
  • Although the majority of new cases are concentrated in large, urban centres with York, Peel and Toronto comprising 54 percent of the total, Dr. Williams indicated that “in the past, [those three hotspots] would’ve made up 70 to 80 percent of our cases,” which means a lot of areas outside of those have gone up extensively. 
  • Before the Christmas break and the lockdown came into effect, Dr. Williams noted Ontario’s average rate per/100,000 was 106 per/100,000. In the last week before New Year’s, it went up to 129.8 per/100,000, which represents a 20 percent increase.  
  • Dr. Williams expressed concern that Ontario’s daily new case count “may jump up to 4,000, that means we have a large amount of community transmission.” 

Workplace Exposure:

  • As the number of workplace outbreaks increases and more public health units publish the names of workplaces where exposure has occurred, Waterloo Region’s Board of Health called on higher levels of government to support paid sick leave. 
  • The region’s Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang, noted that many workers don’t have access to paid sick time thus may be more likely to go to work while contagious.  She explained “The rise in workplace exposures and workplace outbreaks highlights the important need for paid sick time.”  

COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution:

  • As of 8pm last night, 72,631 total doses were administered in Ontario, including 12,251 doses on Wednesday; 2,173 second doses have been completed. 
  • Ontario has received a shipment of another 48,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.  

Federal Developments:

Increase in Cases and Monitoring the U.K Variant:

  • Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, Dr. Tam, issued a statement that noted the latest national-level data indicate daily averages of 7,688 new cases (Dec. 31st – Jan. 6nd). 
  • Although national infection rates remain highest among those aged 80 years and older, Dr. Tam noted that COVID-19 is spreading among people of all ages, with high infection rates across all age groups.
  • So far, provinces and territories have reported 11 cases of a virus variant first reported in the United Kingdom and no reports of any other variants of concern, including a variant first reported in South Africa.
  • Dr. Williams indicated he will ask Ontario’s laboratory technicians to look at better methods of early detection to look at U.K. variants.

We will continue to monitor and report on key COVID-19 developments to help our members stay informed. Stay well!

Pegeen and Faduma

Trends and Cases in Ontario, Canada, and First Nations on Reserve:

Cases Among First Nations on Reserve:

As of January 6th, Indigenous Services Canada was aware of these confirmed cases of COVID-19 for First Nations communities:

  • 9,716 confirmed positive COVID-19
  • 3,271 active cases
  • 443 hospitalizations
  • 6,353 recovered cases
  • 92 deaths

Cases in Ontario: (January 6th as of 10:30am)

  • Total number of cases: 204,145; an increase of 3,519
  • Most newly confirmed cases are concentrated in five public health units (e.g. 891 new cases in Toronto, 568 in Peel Region, 457 in York Region, and 208 in Windsor-Essex County)
  • Resolved: 172,571 (84.5%); an increase of 2,776
  • Deaths: sadly, 4,856 people have died; an increase of 89
  • Hospitalized: 1,472 people were hospitalized; 363 were in intensive care and of those, 242 were on a ventilator
  • Long-term care homes (according to iPHIS): 218 active outbreaks; 1,258 confirmed cases in residents; 1,230 confirmed cases in staff; 2,909 deaths among residents and 10 among staff
  • Lab testing: 8,294,922 completed; 65,772 tests were completed yesterday; up from 51.045 on Tuesday; while the backlog of tests waiting to be completed increased to 66,970 from 55,484 .
  • As of 8:00 p.m. yesterday, more than 72,630 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered.

Cases in Canada: (January 6th as of 7pm)

  • Total number of cases: 626,799; an increase of 8,153
  • Resolved: 531,227 (84.8%)
  • Deaths: 16,369 (2.6%)
  • People tested per million: 378,928
  • Percent Positivity: 4.2%



Ontario Public Health Association (OPHA)

199 Quetico Avenue
Oshawa, ON L1J 1E9