Hamilton reports 3 COVID-19 deaths tied to hospital outbreaks for second day in a row

Two local disease specialists say despite a decline in COVID-19-related deaths in Ontario’s third wave of the pandemic, the growing number of cases reported daily by the province are not sustainable with intensive care units (ICU) on the verge of being overwhelmed.

Infectious disease specialist with St. Joseph’s Hospital Dr. Zain Chagla says if the province continues with its recent average of 2,000 cases a day and one per cent (or 20 people) of that group needing ICU beds, the system will likely fill up in just weeks.

“For the next month or two, this case growth is not sustainable,” Chagla told Global News.

“It’s going to be to health care that’s being compromised for both COVID patients, but also for non-COVID patients, when we have to scale back services to deal with the burden and to cover cases.”

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On Wednesday, the province reported 2,300 new COVID-19 cases, the seventh straight day of caseloads over 2,000.

About 1,100 are hospitalized with COVID-19 as of March 31 with 396 in intensive care units and 252 patients in ICUs on a ventilator.

Dr. Prabhat Jha, epidemiologist and professor of Global Health with the University of Toronto, says the difference with the latest wave compared to the previous two is ICU use.

He says a drop in cases during the summer of 2020 allowed for hospitals to decompress from coronavirus cases between the first and second waves.

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However, Jha says the current rate of cases and hospitalizations in many Ontario municipalities will likely leave many facilities with insufficient bed capacity.

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He characterizes the current plight as a “race” between vaccines and the more infectious virus variants which are spreading more prominently in communities.

“It loves younger people and those are the ones that are getting infected — younger adults,” Jha told Global News.

“We’ve got a race to get the vaccines into older people and then make sure that we get as many vaccines into the next age group.”

Hamilton reports three more COVID-19 deaths, 124 new cases

Hamilton reported 124 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday as well as, for the second day in a row, three more virus-related deaths tied to outbreaks at city hospitals.

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Two units at the Juravinski hospital are reporting the new deaths: two at the F3 acute medicine unit and one at the F5 alternative level of care unit.

Public health says two people in their 80s and one person in their 60s who tested positive for the coronavirus died.

There have now been 315 COVID-19-related deaths since the pandemic began.

Public health reported six new outbreaks on Wednesday at three more elementary schools, two workplaces and a correctional facility.

The school surges, at St. Peter and Paul Catholic Elementary School on the Mountain, Ancaster Meadow Elementary, and Bernadett Catholic in West Hamilton, involve two student cases each.

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The city has 13 school outbreaks, all at the elementary level, connected to 38 cases.

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Jayne Industries in Stoney Creek has the largest of the six new outbreaks, four cases among staff. The outbreak at the Arrell Youth Centre and Aldershot Greenhouses in Waterdown are tied to two cases and a single case, respectively.

Three outbreaks were declared over on Wednesday: the West Valley Suites retirement home, Elmhurst Place supportive housing facility and the Guardian Limeridge pharmacy on the Mountain.

The outbreak at West Valley went on for 29 days and saw 10 total COVID-19 cases and one death.

The city says there are now 44 active outbreaks in the Hamilton-area accounting for more than 360 coronavirus cases as of March 31.

Five area hospitals account for 121 of the total cases since mid-March and 14 virus-related deaths

The city’s two hospital systems have a combined 97 patients being treated for COVID-19, 67 at Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) facilities and 30 at St. Joe’s.

Active cases are down day over day to 816 as of Wednesday.

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There have now been 12,854 total coronavirus cases since the pandemic began last year.

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