For the first time in more than six weeks, the Ontario Science Advisory Table will issue revised COVID-19 estimates today.
The revised forecasts, which will be released at midday, come as Ontario prepares to rescind its mask mandate in most settings on Monday, paving the way for the end of April to lift all remaining COVID-19 limitations.
Some epidemiologists, on the other hand, are concerned that Ontario is moving too rapidly, citing an increase in positive rates and wastewater data that could indicate a recent surge in transmission in some parts of the province.
The more contagious BA.2 subvariant is also now widely circulating in Ontario, with Health Minister Christine Elliott saying earlier this week that she expects it to become dominant in the near future, potentially pushing case counts up in the process.
“(Chief Medical Officer of Health) Dr. (Kieran) Moore feels that we will be able to handle this variant without any further disruption to services in Ontario,” she said, noting that the new subvariant is not believed to be associated with any increase in severity.
The last time the Ontario Science Advisory Table released modelling, it warned that hospitalizations were likely to “rebound” and remain at a “prolonged peak” amid the loosening of some public health restrictions.
But that has not materialized.
In fact, Ontario has so been trending well ahead of the best case scenarios laid out in that modelling, with 649 patients in hospital with COVID-19 as of Wednesday, including 204 in the ICU.
The science table’s best-case scenario for mid-March had suggested there would be approximately 2,000 people in hospital with COVID-19, including 400 in the ICU.
Its worst-case scenario would have seen approximately 6,000 people in hospital with COVID-19 by now, including 900 in the ICU.