Published Thursday, March 18, 2021 10:05AM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, March 18, 2021 4:56PM EDT
Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams made the comment on Thursday afternoon, hours after the Ministry of Health reported more than 1,500 new cases of COVID-19 for a second straight day.
“We are in the third wave. It is just a matter of what kind of wave is it?” he said. “Is it an undulating wave? Is it a rapidly rising breaking wave? Is it going to look like wave two. We don’t know right now.”
The seven-day rolling average of cases now stands at 1,427, up from 1,251 at this point one week ago. Over the last three weeks it has risen by about 35 per cent.
There are now 12,814 known active cases of novel coronavirus infection across the province, along with 7,202 deaths and 303,500 recoveries.
It’s the highest the province’s active caseload has been since Feb. 11.
Speaking with reporters during a briefing, Williams said that he believes that the public health restrictions in Ontario have had “some efect on slowing the rise of the variants of concern," given that modelling initially suggested that they would double every seven to 10 days.
But he said that they are clearly escalating and that Ontario is in a “precarious” position as a result.
“Can we slow the rise and get away from the so-called hockey stick or exponential growth that we have seen in some other juridstictions?” he asked.
Williams had said as recently as Monday that it was “yet to be determined” whether Ontario was in a third wave of the pandemic, so his acknowledgement on Thursday that we are represents a significant shift in tone.
He said that some jurisdictions elsewhere in the world have been able to avoid an exponential growth in cases as the B.1.1.7 variant took hold and his hope is that Ontario will be able to do the same.
It should, however, be noted that each confirmed case involving a variant in Ontario is infecting 1.35 other people.
To put that number in context, Ontario as a whole hasn’t had a reproductive number that high since April of last year.
“Right now it looks like we are doing it. But I am not going to be complacent and say we have it done," Williams said.