Ontario is reporting a new record number of COVID-19 cases for the second consecutive day and there are now more people hospitalized with the disease caused by the novel coronavirus than at any other point during the pandemic.
The Ministry of Health says that there were 2,923 new cases confirmed on Tuesday, pushing the rolling seven-day average up to 2,309. That is a slight increase on this time last week when it stood at 2,304.
The nearly 3,000 new cases reported over the last 24 hours do represent a big jump on then record 2,553 that were reported just one day prior, though.
It also comes as testing continues to lag behind the levels seen in recent weeks.
On Tuesday the province conducted just 39,210 tests, pointing to a positivity percentage of 8.4 per cent.
It was the third straight day that a positivity rate above eight per cent was reported.
Meanwhile, the spread of the virus continues to accelerate in the GTA.
Toronto Public Health reported a record 1,069 news cases in the city on Wednesday. The province uses a different cut off time for its data but also reported a new record number of infections in Toronto – 998.
There was also a record 408 new cases reported in York Region while Peel Region reported another 441 new cases, Durham Region reported 158 and Halton Region reported 114.
“The numbers are very disconcerting,” Toronto Mayor John Tory said during an interview with CP24 earlier on Wednesday morning. “They are still alarming and they are still putting a huge strain on the healthcare system so there is nothing good about them. The numbers are just not good.”
Nearly 1,200 COVID patients now hospitalized
The latest data indicates that there are now 1,177 people hospitalized with COVID-19, eclipsing the peak seen during the first wave of the pandemic in the spring (1,043) for the first time.
A daily Critical Care Services Ontario report obtained by CP24 also indicated that 335 COVID-19 patients are now being treated in intensive care. That represents nearly 20 per cent of all patients in the ICU.
Some hospitals, however, have been hit harder than others.
At Credit Valley Hospital in Mississauga the number of patients receiving treatment in the ICU exceeds the baseline number of beds available and more than half of them have COVID-19.
The same is also true at Humber River Hospital, where 23 of 46 beds in the ICU are now occupied by COVID-19 patients.
In Toronto 70 COVID-19 patients are being treated in intensive care units, though there remains some theoretical capacity with only 348 of 459 available beds filled as of late Tuesday night.
Of course health officials have said that staffing resources are a bigger issue than bed availability at this point, meaning that the strain being felt by hospitals is sometimes not fully illustrated by the numbers.
“Just to lay the numbers out in wave one we had a total of 1,228 patients with COVID-19 go through Ontario’s ICUs during that entire wave and as of Dec. 27 1,252 patients have been through Ontario’s ICUs with COVID-19 during the second wave. So we have exceeded our wave one total in four months instead of the five months and things are getting worse,” Dr. Michael Warner, the medical director of critical care at Michael Garron Hospital, told CP24 on Wednesday. “We are tracking above the worst case scenario in terms of trajectory and I am highly concerned that access to non-COVID care will come more limited in the weeks and months to come.”
19 more deaths
A number of hospitals have already cancelled elective surgeries and procedures but officials have said that about 85 per cent of the care in ICU is critical and cannot be postponed.
Speaking with CP24, Warner said that while the province has ordered the closure of non-essential businesses it can’t “legislate what happens behind closed doors in peoples homes,” which could be a “big source” of transmission.
“The seven-day average is going to be 2,500 and when school resumed in September the seven-day average was 209 in terms of COVID cases in Ontario. So it is inconceivable that we could open things up in a week or two weeks,” he said.
On Wednesday, the province also reported another 19 deaths in people who contracted COVID-19, including 12 among long-term care home residents.
There was also another four outbreaks reported at long-term care home, pushing the total number of active outbreaks in that setting to 200.
U.S. Futures Gain as Stocks Rebound; Dollar Dips: Markets Wrap – Yahoo Canada Finance
(Bloomberg) — U.S. stocks followed European shares higher on Tuesday as traders reassessed risks from China’s crackdown on the real-estate sector and looked ahead to this week’s Federal Reserve meeting.
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The S&P 500 and Nasdaq 100 gained, suggesting some improvement in sentiment after concerns about fallout from China Evergrande Group’s debt woes roiled markets Monday. Dip-buyers in the last hour of trading Monday helped the S&P 500 pare some losses, though the index still posted the biggest drop since May.
“You had a lot of pent-up worries all expressed in one day and some of them were perhaps a bit overwrought — there’s still a desperate search for return by investors and still very much a buy-the-dips mentality,” said David Donabedian, chief investment officer of CIBC Private Wealth Management.
The Stoxx Europe 600 index climbed more than 1%, rebounding from the biggest slump in two months, with energy companies leading the advance and all industry sectors in the green. Royal Dutch Shell Plc rose after the company offered shareholders a payout from the sale of shale oil fields. Universal Music Group BV shares soared in their stock market debut after being spun off from Vivendi SE.
Aside from worries over Evergrande’s ability to make good on $300 billion of liabilities, investors are also positioning for the two-day Fed meeting starting Tuesday, where policy makers are expected to start laying the groundwork for paring stimulus. Treasury yields ticked lower and the dollar was steady.
“So much of this information is already known that we don’t think it will necessary set off a wave of problems,” John Bilton, head of global multi-asset strategy at JPMorgan Asset Management, said on Bloomberg TV. “I’m more concerned about knock-on sentiment at a time when investor sentiment is a bit fragile. But when we look at the fundamentals — the general growth, and direction in the wider economy — we still feel reasonably confident that the situation will right itself.”
A Hong Kong gauge of real-estate firms steadied, after developers disputed a report of pressure from the Chinese government. Evergrande slid deeper in equity and credit markets. Concerns remain about broader contagion after S&P Global Ratings said the developer is on the brink of default. China’s markets reopen on Wednesday after holidays.
China’s property-sector upheaval — part of President Xi Jinping’s broader clampdown on private industries under his “common prosperity” initiative to reduce inequality — is adding to the risks confronting investors. These include stretched equity valuations and slower economic reopening due to the delta virus strain amid price pressures stoked by commodities. Markets are also digesting an outlook of reduced central bank policy support.
Elsewhere, Bitcoin slid for a third day in volatile trading, tumbling as much as 7.6% before bouncing back to around $43,000. Oil rebounded from two days of declines, while iron ore futures took a breather following Monday’s rout, though stayed below $100 a ton on China’s steel output curbs.
In Canada, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau won a third term in a snap election but fell short of regaining a parliamentary majority. The nation’s currency was among the best performers in the Group-of-10 basket.
Here are key events to watch this week:
Bank of Japan rate decision, Wednesday
Federal Reserve rate decision, Wednesday
Bank of England rate decision, Thursday
Fed Chair Jerome Powell, Fed Governor Michelle Bowman and Vice Chairman Richard Clarida discuss pandemic recovery, Friday
For more market analysis, read our MLIV blog.
Some of the main moves in markets:
The S&P 500 rose 0.5% as of 9:30 a.m. New York time
The Nasdaq 100 rose 0.5%
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.4%
The Stoxx Europe 600 rose 1%
The MSCI World index rose 0.5%
The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index was little changed
The euro was little changed at $1.1733
The British pound was unchanged at $1.3657
The Japanese yen rose 0.2% to 109.25 per dollar
The yield on 10-year Treasuries was little changed at 1.31%
Germany’s 10-year yield declined two basis points to -0.34%
Britain’s 10-year yield declined one basis point to 0.78%
West Texas Intermediate crude rose 0.7% to $70.78 a barrel
Gold futures rose 0.5% to $1,773.30 an ounce
More stories like this are available on bloomberg.com
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COVID booster use may be expanded, US health officials say – Al Jazeera English
FDA advisory body this week recommended coronavirus booster shots for people more than age 65 and those at high risk.
Top health officials in the United States have said broader approval of COVID-19 booster shots could be weeks away, after a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) expert advisory panel this week recommended a third jab for a limited segment of the population.
The director of the National Institutes of Health said the FDA panel’s decision on Friday to limit Pfizer COVID-19 booster shots to Americans age 65 and older as well as those at high risk of severe disease was a preliminary step.
In an interview on Fox News Sunday, Dr Francis Collins predicted more wide-ranging approval for most Americans “in the next few weeks”.
Collins said the panel’s recommendation was correct based on a “snapshot” of available data on the effectiveness of Pfizer’s two-jab regimen over time. But he said real-time data from the US and Israel continue to come in showing waning efficacy among more groups of people that will need to be addressed soon.
“I think there will be a decision in the coming weeks to extend boosters beyond the list that they approved on Friday,” said Collins, who also appeared CBS’ Face the Nation programme on Sunday.
Some rich nations, including the US and UK, are considering coronavirus booster shots amid a recent surge in cases linked to the highly contagious Delta variant.
But the World Health Organization (WHO) this month called for a moratorium on booster shots amid concerns about vaccine supplies to poorer nations, where millions have yet to receive their first jab.
A group of international scientists also said last week that even with the threat from the Delta strain, “booster doses for the general population are not appropriate at this stage in the pandemic”.
“Any decisions about the need for boosting or timing of boosting should be based on careful analyses of adequately controlled clinical or epidemiological data, or both, indicating a persistent and meaningful reduction in severe disease,” the scientists wrote in The Lancet medical journal.
Dr Anthony Fauci, who is US President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser, on Sunday praised the FDA advisory board’s plan for covering a “good chunk” of Americans. But he stressed that “this is not the end of the story” based on data that was emerging and said the guidance would likely be expanded in the coming weeks to months.
People in the US who have received the two-dose Moderna vaccine or one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine are still awaiting guidance on possible booster shots.
“The actual data that we’ll get [on] that third shot for the Moderna and second shot for the J&J is literally a couple to a few weeks away,” Fauci told NBC’s Meet the Press programme.
“We’re working on that right now to get the data to the FDA so they can examine it and make a determination about the boosters for those people.”
The FDA will consider the advisory group’s advice and make its own decision, probably within days. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also is set to weigh in this week.
US stocks tumble amid fears of market correction – BBC News
US markets have tumbled amid growing concerns about China’s financial system and the impact of coronavirus on the global economy.
On Wednesday, the Dow Jones index lost almost 800 points to 33,816.92 before regaining ground.
There were similar falls in Europe, with the Germany’s Dax index losing 2.3%, and France’s Cac 40 down 1.7%.
One analyst called it “a classic flight to safety”, with Wall Street seeing its worst day since May.
But US stocks are still up more than 12% this year and some analysts played down fears of a correction ahead.
Monday’s sell-off was primarily driven by concerns that Evergrande – one of China’s biggest property developers – is struggling to repay around $300bn of debts.
Regulators in China warned it could spark broader risks to the country’s financial system. And investors fear this could hit big banks exposed to Evergrande and companies like it, causing contagion in global markets.
“The fear of an Evergrande bankruptcy appears to be leading to concern about China’s very own Lehman [Brothers] moment, and a big overspill across the region,” said Michael Hewson of CMC Markets.
Investors are also nervous that the US Federal Reserve, which meets on Tuesday and Wednesday, will confirm plans to pare back its support for the US economy this year.
Global stocks have rallied as economies have reopened and central banks have provided trillions of dollars in support to boost growth.
But there are concerns there could be a pull-back, if support is taken away at a time when the Delta variant is starting to drag on the recovery.
Strategists at Morgan Stanley said they expected a 10% correction in America’s S&P 500 index as the Fed starts to unwind its support. They added that signs of a stalling recovery could deepen that fall to 20%.
‘Signal from the noise’
However, other analysts played down fears of a rout, noting that September is typically a bad months for stocks.
“Overall, September continues to live up to its bad reputation as historically the weakest month of the year. But that doesn’t mean it can’t rebound,” said JJ Kinahan, chief market strategist at TD Ameritrade.
And Lindsey Bell of Ally Invest said any pullback may be short-lived.
“Much of investing is about sorting through what’s signal and what’s noise,” she said. “While there is concern about the Evergrande situation infecting global markets, for the long-term investor, this situation may just be noise.”
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