- As the Omicron variant spreads, the number of COVID-19 patients requiring hospitalization and critical care in intensive care units is expected to rise in the coming weeks.
- According to Moore, the current surge has resulted in a nine percent increase in hospitalizations compared to the previous week.
- On Tuesday, 3,453 new cases of COVID-19 were reported in Ontario, up 143 percent from the previous Tuesday.
According to Ontario’s top doctor, the number of COVID-19 patients requiring hospitalization and critical care in intensive care units is expected to rise in the coming weeks as the Omicron variant spreads.
At a press conference Tuesday afternoon, Dr. Kieran Moore, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, said the province is experiencing exponential growth and is on track to record more new daily cases than it has in the entire pandemic.
On Tuesday, Ontario reported 3,453 new cases of COVID-19, up 143% from the previous Tuesday.
It was the first time since May 10 that the seven-day average of daily cases surpassed 3,000. Every five days or so, that number is expected to double.
According to Moore, the current surge has resulted in a nine percent increase in hospitalizations compared to the previous week. Whereas the number of patients in ICUs has remained stable, Moore expects it to rise in the coming days and weeks as case numbers continue to rise at an exponential rate.
“This variant moves quickly, and we must as well,” Moore explained. “There is no doubt that continued vigilance will be required in the coming days and weeks… We must remain vigilant and disciplined, and we must never underestimate this virus.”
The province is reviewing testing and contact tracing.
Moore’s warning comes as the province’s testing and contact tracing systems are strained by a growing number of positive tests and more people seeking testing. In some parts of the province, high demand for PCR tests has resulted in access delays and long wait times for results.
According to Ottawa Public Health, residents with symptoms but no access to a timely test have been advised to assume they are infected and self-isolated. Last week, a similar strain on testing resources was reported in Kingston, and other health departments have said they are expecting the same issues.
According to provincial data, provincial labs processed an average of 54,000 PCR tests per day over the past week, which is close to the total capacity of about 70,000 tests.
Moore stated that the province’s testing strategy would be reviewed in 48 hours.
“We’re not quite at full capacity yet,” Moore explained, “but we’d like to keep some of it for outbreak management in long-term care facilities and other places.”
“As this virus continues to double every few days, which is what it wants to do, we may have to put some limitations on PCR and [rapid antigen tests] and be able to use RAT testing for diagnostic purposes[s] if we don’t have complete PCR,” says the researcher.
Moore added that the province needs to keep some of its limited supply of rapid tests for healthcare, long-term care, and other essential workers who may be in close contact with a positive case, so they don’t have to self-isolate for a long time.
Last week, Ontario began handing out free rapid tests to the general public at malls, liquor stores, and other high-traffic locations, causing long lines and frustration among those who were left empty-handed when supplies ran out. Under that initiative, two million rapid tests with results in 15 minutes were allocated for distribution, with others going to workplaces, long-term care homes, and other locations.
Some test kits have appeared for sale on the internet, prompting the province to issue a warning that anyone attempting to resell them could face a fine.
Because the province and public health units are focusing their contact tracing efforts on the highest-risk settings, such as hospitals, long-term care facilities, retirement homes, and other congregate settings such as shelters, Moore said people should be prepared to inform their contacts and workplaces if they test positive for the virus.
“Our resources must be prioritized to ensure that our most vulnerable are protected and that health care and essential settings remain open and operational,” Moore said.
Source: CBC News
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