The scientific director with Ontario’s Science Table says that even if current lockdown measures flatten COVID-19 case numbers over the next few weeks, it’s unlikely that will have an effect on intensive care unit (ICU) capacity in local hospitals.
Peter Juni, a professor of medicine and epidemiology at the University of Toronto, Global News that the province’s six-week stay-at-home order and target of administering of at least 100,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses per day would likely diminish cases but not necessarily the number of people expected to be admitted to ICUs.
“So right now, we know the projected numbers on ICU occupancy. That’s just all baked in,” Juni said.
Ontario reports more than 4,400 new COVID-19 cases, 19 deaths
“Even if the case numbers now flatten, the curve flattens or even start to go down, ICU occupancy will still go up.”
On Monday, Ontario reported a record 2,202 people hospitalized with COVID-19, up by 95 from the previous day.
Some 755 patients — an all-time high — are in ICUs and 516 patients are on a ventilator.
In Hamilton, 30 more people were admitted to local hospitals with COVID-19 since Friday. Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) says there are now 100 patients with COVID-19 at their facilities, 30 of them in ICUs.
St. Joseph’s says its ICUs have 22 COVID-19 patients as of Monday morning. The hospital has 51 coronavirus patients.
HHS is reporting its overall ICU capacity is now at 84 per cent while St. Joe’s is reporting 91 per cent capacity.
In the province’s update on COVID-19 modelling Friday, officials said there has been 67 per cent growth in hospitalizations related to the virus and a 51 per cent growth in ICU occupancy amid the third wave.
Juni says Ontario health officials are now reaching out to colleagues from the U.K. to get advice on how they handled their “darkest moments” amid a wave in January which saw the nation’s hospitals hit high capacity levels.
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The doctor says one significant difference in the third wave compared to the other two is the factoring of variants, which are more transmissible. Juni said there was less risk for those who had to go to work and were asymptomatic or exposed to the original version of the virus.
“Now, we can’t afford that anymore,” Juni said.
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“It’s impossible because this thing is 40 to 50 per cent more transmissible. We have a wildfire and we now need to deal with it.”
The province amended more stringent regulations originally announced on Friday to allow for more outdoor activities, like children on playgrounds. Juni said outdoor activities still need to be approached with caution.
“I’m seriously thinking, you know, the best bet would be that we have a mask mandate on playgrounds for parents and children,” Juni said.
“You know, unless they’re just below the age of five or so.”
Hamilton reports 214 new COVID-19 cases, 2 deaths
Hamilton reported 214 new COVID-19 cases on Monday and two more virus-related deaths involving a person in their 60s and another in their 80s.
The city has had 346 total virus-related deaths since the pandemic began in 2020.
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Active cases are up slightly day over day by three to 1,403 as of April 19.
The city’s seven-day average of new cases is up again in 24 hours by nine to 175 as of Monday.
The weekly case rate, at 205, is now above 200 for the first time ever. Meanwhile, the percentage of all coronavirus tests coming back positive is at 7.4 per cent, a pandemic high.
Public health reported two new outbreaks on Sunday, one at a church and another at a hospital.
The outbreak at the Friends of Jesus Christ Ministries of Greater Hamilton & Burlington has four cases among patrons, while the Hamilton General’s surge in its 5 South unit involves three patients.
Outbreaks at St. Peter and Paul Catholic Elementary School and the Meadowlands Retirement Residence were closed on Sunday. St. Peter and Paul had 12 cases among students over the 20-day surge while the Meadowlands saw just three cases over 18 days.
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There are 40 ongoing outbreaks in the city involving 250 cases as of April 19.
There have now been 15,517 total coronavirus cases locally since the pandemic began last year.
Over 150,000 vaccine does administered in Hamilton
Hamilton clinics have administered 153,551 COVID-19 vaccines as of Sunday, with close to 63,000 administered through the fixed site at Hamilton Health Sciences.
The clinic at St. Joe’s has now administered about 34,000 doses, 23,000 of which have been through mobile clinics, 18,000 with the First Ontario site, 10,000 at pharmacies, and around 5,000 at primary care clinics.
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