Health experts warn Ontarians to keep masks on as COVID-19 hospitalizations rise

Ontario reports 778 people hospitalized with COVID-19 on Wednesday as health experts warn people to keep wearing masks as the province sees an increase in hospital occupancy following the lifting of lockdown measures public health.

Dr. Peter Jüni, head of Ontario’s COVID-19 Scientific Advisory Table, says the province is seeing the effect of easing public health measures in recent weeks – including the lifting of mask mandates in most settings and the end of gathering limits.

“We are currently seeing a fairly large increase in sewage mainly, and that is starting to be followed now by an increase in hospital occupancy,” Jüni told CBC News on Wednesday morning.

“We’re in the middle, whatever we call it. It’s either the expected resurgence after the last wave reopens, or you can call it the sixth wave.”

Experts predicted an increase in cases and hospitalizations with the lifting of measures, but urged Ontarians to continue to be cautious and wear a mask in busy indoor environments.

Jüni said the latest projections made by the scientific table which predicted an increase in hospital occupancy will have to be reassessed based on the behavior observed by health experts. These forecasts saw an increase in hospitalizations, but not as high as the peak of the Omicron wave of the pandemic.

New COVID wave underway

Jüni said he does not anticipate the burden on the province’s health care system to be as high as previous waves due to high vaccination rates, but notes that it is unclear how big of a hit will be. the impact.

He continued to urge Ontarians to take precautions.

“We should only change our behavior moderately and slowly to make sure the uphill is not too steep.”

Dr Isaac Bogoch, an infectious disease expert with the University Health Network, said it was “pretty clear” that sewage signals were trending up, also noting that another wave was on the way.

WATCH | Infectious disease specialist on increased sewage signals:

New wave of COVID is underway in Ontario, expert says

New wave of COVID is underway in Ontario, expert says 5:26

“There is more COVID now than a week or two ago, [but] the real question here is ‘How big will this wave be? not “Is there a wave?” “, Bogoch told CBC News on Tuesday.

“I don’t think it will be as big as the wave we just had [but] again, it’s going to be something.”

Wastewater surveillance data is useful for experts to project virus transmission in specific areas and its impact on hospitals in the days or weeks to come, while figures such as hospitalizations and care occupancy intensive are “delayed measures”, he noted.

Bogoch noted that while the highly contagious BA.2 subvariant is more transmissible, vaccines continue to provide high levels of protection against serious disease for both the subvariant and Omicron.

For now, Bogoch encourages people to continue wearing masks as they remain effective in reducing the risk of transmission and creating safer indoor environments.

In a statement to CBC News on Wednesday, the Department of Health said the province’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Kieran Moore, will continue to monitor data and evidence on an “ongoing” basis.

“As Dr. Moore said previously said, the indicators are expected to increase as Ontarians increasingly interact with each other. However, with our high vaccination rates and natural immunity, along with the arrival of antivirals, Ontario has the tools to manage the impact of the virus,” the statement said.

The province has not said whether it plans to reintroduce public health measures. All remaining requirements are due to end on April 27, according to Ontario’s reopening plan.

“The latest modeling shows that our hospitals and health system can handle any of the projected scenarios, without compromising our ability to continue to deal with the surgical backlog caused by the pandemic,” the ministry added.

778 hospitalized, 13 additional deaths

The number of hospitalizations reported on Wednesday is down slightly from 790 the day before, although it is up from 611 a week ago.

Among the hospitalizations reported, the number of patients in intensive care remained the same as the day before, with the Ministry of Health reporting 165 today. That’s down from 174 at the same time last week.

Of those hospitalized, 50% were admitted specifically for treatment of symptoms caused by the virus, while the rest were admitted for other reasons and later tested positive. Meanwhile, 73% of people in intensive care were admitted with COVID-19, while the rest were added for other reasons and then tested positive for the virus.

Thirteen other deaths were also reported, bringing the total death toll in the province to 12,427.

On Wednesday, 2,814 new cases of COVID-19 were recorded via limited PCR testing, although the scientific table estimates the true number to be between 30,000 and 35,000 cases according to sewage monitoring data.

Here are some other key pandemic indicators and figures from the Ministry of Health daily provincial update:

Active cases: 17,309.

Province-wide test positivity rate: 15.1, up from 14.4% on Tuesday.

Intensive care patients requiring a ventilator to breathe: 94.

Burgeoning long-term care homes: 56.

Vaccination: 8,484 doses of vaccines were administered Tuesday in Ontario with a total of 32,054,772 doses distributed to date. Just over 89.9% of Ontarians aged five and older received at least one dose, while just over 86.4% received two doses.