Ontario sees 2,169 new COVID-19 cases as ICU admissions top 400

Premier Doug Ford is scheduled to hold a news conference at 1 p.m. in Brampton. Ford’s office says he will be joined by Minister of Health Christine Elliott.

You’ll be able to watch it live in this story.

Ontario reported another 2,169 cases of COVID-19 on Friday, as a government agency that tracks hospitalizations said admissions to intensive care have climbed to 401 after weeks of an uneven but steady rise. 

Critical Care Services Ontario (CCSO) puts together a daily internal report on various aspects of care for hospitals and health organizations. According to the agency, admissions of COVID-19 patients to ICUs peaked at 420 in mid-January, during the second wave of the illness.

“Every day the situation grows more serious,” said Anthony Dale, president of the Ontario Hospital Association, in a tweet highlighting the latest data.

You may notice that CCSO’s figure for ICU admissions differs considerably from the number reported by the Ministry of Health, currently 332. That is due to differences in how each body does its count. 

In the case of the ministry, patients are removed from the count after two weeks of care in hospital, regardless of whether or not they continue to occupy a bed. That is why CCSO’s data is considered more accurate and is therefore used for planning by hospital officials.

Dr. Barbara Yaffe, Ontario’s associate chief medical officer of health, said yesterday that virus variants of concern are driving up case counts and admissions to hospitals and critical care.

“Daily cases are increasing, hospitalizations are increasing and ICU admissions are increasing,” Yaffe told media. “As [variants] take over to be the predominant strains, the concern is that the infection rate will increase.”

CBC News reported this morning that the province’s COVID-19 science advisory table plans to release a new analysis that found that variants of concern double the risk of someone being admitted to intensive care, relative to the dominant strains that were circulating earlier in the pandemic.

The variants also increase the risk of dying from the illness, the science table says. The group of infectious disease experts advises the Ontario government on its pandemic response.

Physicians, especially those working in the Greater Toronto Area and surrounding regions, report that the age distribution of patients admitted to hospitals is continuing to skew younger. Those younger patients also seem to have more severe forms of COVID-19 than compared with similarly aged people earlier in the pandemic, doctors say.

The trend is also partly being driven by ongoing vaccinations for the province’s most elderly residents. 

Meanwhile, the new cases reported today include 682 in Toronto, 397 in Peel Region, 254 in York Region, 129 in Ottawa, 123 in Durham and 122 in Hamilton. 

They come as labs completed 53,436 tests for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, and logged a test positivity of 3.8 per cent.

The seven-day average of daily cases rose to 1,855, marking 11 straight days of increases.

More to come.

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