Ontario is ending several COVID-19 emergency orders aimed at preserving hospital capacity during the height of the third wave, including allowing hospitals to resume non-urgent surgeries that require inpatient and critical care services.
Hospitals can also no longer transfer patients to long-term care or retirement homes without their consent, and home care and other health-care staff can no longer be redeployed to those homes.
The orders were imposed in April, when the province’s hospitals were under immense pressure and had to move patients between facilities, redirect staff and cancel non-urgent procedures to ensure they had the capacity to treat severely ill COVID-19 patients.
The CEO of Ontario Health, which co-ordinates several agencies in the health-care system, says hospitals can resume non-urgent surgeries requiring inpatient services if they meet certain criteria, including having a plan for a rise in COVID-19 patients and readiness to accept patient transfers.
Patients can still be transferred between hospitals without their consent and non-hospital health-care staff can still be redeployed to hospitals.
There are currently 729 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 in Ontario, including 546 in intensive care and 370 patients on ventilators.
The province reported 870 COVID-19 cases and 10 deaths from the virus on Thursday.
Also on Thursday, the province updated its second-dose guidance for people who received a first dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.
AstraZeneca recipients can have the second dose of the same vaccine or receive a dose of Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna starting Friday.
These second dose options will be provided at the recommended 12-week interval.