Ontario COVID-19 cases, ICUs will rise even without Omicron variant: new modelling

Click to play video: 'COVID-19 modelling indicates tough winter ahead for Ontario’s ICUs'
COVID-19 modelling indicates tough winter ahead for Ontario’s ICUs
WATCH ABOVE: Ontario’s COVID-19 Science Advisory Table says vaccinations and reduced contacts are needed to keep pressure off the province’s hospitals. But so far, is not recommending any provincewide restrictions. Matthew Bingley reports – Dec 7, 2021

Ontario’s COVID-19 science advisory table has released new projections that indicate cases are rising substantially, even without Omicron, and that vaccinating young children and increased public health measures are key to flattening the curve.

“COVID-19 cases are rising in most Public Health Units due to the Delta variant. Testing has not increased, but positivity is rising. This is a real rise in cases,” the science table wrote in its key findings.

“To control cases and the impact on our health system, we need to increase vaccination (particularly 5-11 year-olds) and continue to use public health measures to reduce transmission now,” the science table continued.

The science table noted there will likely be a surge in cases above its current projections due to Omicron.
Click to play video: 'Windsor reimposes restrictions as Ontario projects COVID-19 surge this winter'
Windsor reimposes restrictions as Ontario projects COVID-19 surge this winter

A graph presented in the documents show case counts could reach upwards of 3,000 new cases a day by the end of December with no change in contacts and with only 30 per cent of young children aged 5 to 11 vaccinated.

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If vaccination of children reaches 50 per cent by the end of December, case counts are projected to reach just above 1,500 a day.

With 15 per cent decrease through more strict public health measures (decrease in contacts) and 30 per cent vaccination of young children, cases are projected to hover around the 1,000 mark.

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The impact of the Omicron variant was not included in all three scenarios and would “likely worsen these projections,” the science table noted, adding that the current situation is “very uncertain.”

Ontario COVID-19 cases projections as of Dec. 7, 2021. Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table

When it comes to hospitalizations, specifically in intensive care units (ICUs), the science table said ICU admissions are stable for now.

However, with a rise in COVID-19 cases, the science table said ICU occupancy will likely grow to 250 to 400 beds in January putting hospitals under strain again.

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“Ontario ICUs have been under unprecedented pressure and will have trouble responding to another surge in patients,” the science table wrote.

Ontario Health officials have recently said intensive care occupancy can reach between 250 or 300 patients before the health care system would be impacted and require ramping down some non-urgent surgeries and procedures.

On Tuesday, 928 new COVID-19 cases were reported with a 3.8 per cent positivity rate — the highest seen since the end of May. There are 165 patients in Ontario’s ICUs as of Tuesday.

Ontario’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Kieran Moore held a COVID-19 update Tuesday afternoon and told reporters the province would work with local public health units which in some regions, such as Windsor-Essex and Sudbury, implemented further public health restrictions.

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“Because it’s so differential across Ontario the impact on the health care system we are working regionally and locally,” Moore said. “This is a different game now that there is such a different rate and impact on the acute care sector across Ontario that we are really having to try to put fires out where they come up and work very closely with those communities to limit the spread.”

However, Moore stopped short of issuing any public health restrictions that would impact the entire province.

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