COVID-19 hospitalizations are decreasing in Ontario, but officials have added additional 13 virus-related deaths to the province’s total.
According to provincial health officials, 611 COVID-19 patients are being treated in Ontario hospitals, down from 649 a week earlier.
This includes 174 intensive-care patients, down from 204 on Wednesday.
Officials reported 14 additional virus-related deaths in the last month today, but one death that occurred more than a month ago was deleted from the overall number owing to a data cleanup, officials said. COVID-19 has claimed the lives of 12,356 people in Ontario.
Officials say 2,149 cases were confirmed by provincial labs over the past 24 hours but that number is not an accurate reflection of the true burden of infection in Ontario due to significant testing restrictions. Only select groups in the province are eligible to be tested at assessment centres and most members of the general population are no longer able to receive a free PCR test. Last Wednesday, 2,011 new cases were confirmed by provincial labs.
Of the cases conirmed today, 243 involve those who are not fully vaccinated, 561 involve people with two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, 1,137 involve people with two doses plus a booster shot, and 217 involve those with an unknown vaccination status.
An estimated 18,267 tests were processed over the past 24 hours but officials did not release a provincewide positivity rate today.
As of Monday, most virus-related public health measures have been lifted in Ontario, including mask mandates in most public settings.
People are no longer required to wear masks inside restaurants, retail shops, schools, gyms, and movie theatres. Masks must be worn on public transit and in long-term care homes and individual businesses can develop their own policies related to masking and vaccination.
Earlier this month, the province also scrapped its vaccine certificate program and lifted capacity limits for businesses in the province.
Members of the province’s Science Advisory Table released new modelling last week indicating that the province will likely see a moderate rebound in hospital admissions between now and May.
Experts have cautioned that the province must be prepared to re-impose mask mandates if transmission hits a level that results in hospitals becoming overwhelmed, as was seen in previous waves of the pandemic.
Dr. Peter Jüni, the scientific director of Ontario’s Science Advisory Table, said wastewater data indicates that all regions of the province are seeing increased levels of COVID-19 transmission.
Jüni said that the province is seeing a doubling time of just under seven days when it comes to the viral concentration in wastewater.
“I just want to make sure that we don’t have too steep of a slope upwards… it just looks a little bit steep right now,” he said.
“What I would like to prevent from happening is that we have a really steep rise again so we end up on a high mountain and then it starts to slow down and the problem is if you are really high up, you take an awfully long time come down again and then you infect quite a lot more people that are not necessary to infect.”
Jüni urged people to continue to be cautious when interacting with others.
“People’s behaviour needs to be moderate,” he said. “It shouldn’t change dramatically.”