According to new modeling data given today by Ontario’s scientific table, most public health facilities in the province are witnessing an increase in COVID-19 cases, and ICU occupancy might approach 200 early in the New Year.
From Oct. 26 to Nov. 8, all but eight of Ontario’s 34 public health units experienced an increase in cases, with Sudbury experiencing the largest increase in infections.
The science table, on the other hand, stated that due to the recent outbreak of diseases, the immediate future of case counts is unknown.
“I think it’s really important to acknowledge the uncertainty right now. We’re at a critical juncture. And if you want a proof of concept of that, just go to Western Europe and see what’s happening there,” scientific director Dr. Peter Jüni told CP24 on Friday.
The increase of virus spread across the province is attributed to colder weather and people spending more time indoors, the lifting of some capacity limits last month, and more indoor gatherings.
As a result, the science table recommends a “deliberate pause on reopening” for the time being, wearing masks properly indoors and getting fully vaccinated.
Jüni said right now the province needs to adhere to current public health restrictions to ensure infections don’t skyrocket.
“It’s about fine tuning capacity limits, etc. Making sure that vaccine certificates are carefully implemented, that people are wearing their masks. We’re at that level, which is good news,” he said.
“Toronto right now has still relatively stable case counts. We’re holding the line here, and I would like to see it this way also in the future,” he added.
Testing rates have remained relatively flat throughout the past couple of weeks but the positivity rate has steadily increased across the province.
“Testing is flat, but positivity is rising in several Public Health Units. This indicates a real rise in cases,” the science table wrote in a presentation released on Friday.
The province’s current positivity rate stands at 2.5 per cent, up from 1.8 per cent a week ago.
As of Nov. 8, the effective reproduction number, which corresponds to the average number of additional infections caused by one infection, was at 1.25, well up from a month ago when it was one.
Although cases are rising across most regions in the province, hospital and intensive care occupancy remain stable for now. However ICU rates are likely to increase in the coming months.
In a “more likely” scenario, the science table predicts that ICU occupancy will hit 200 beds in January, and in a “possible” scenario it could hit 250.
All options in the science table assume that all health limitations stay in place.
As of Friday, 207 patients have contracted the virus in Ontario hospitals, including 130 in intensive care units.
According to Jüni, if ICU occupancy rises slightly, the health-care system will not be overwhelmed as it was during the previous two pandemic waves.
“So, even if case numbers rise slightly, the number of ICU beds occupied will not rise to the same level as before.” So 200-250 is still OK. “All we have to do now is make sure our case numbers don’t explode as they did in Europe,” he said.