Ontario ICU occupancy will likely rise with growing COVID case counts: science table


Published November 12, 2021 at 3:50 pm

Intensive care occupancy will likely to increase to approximately 200 patients by the new year as COVID-19 cases rise across much of Ontario, according to the latest projections from the province’s pandemic advisors.

The new modelling published Friday noted that hospitalizations and intensive care numbers are currently stable but intensive care admissions will likely increase in light of recent infection trends.

“Remember, that’s a lagging indicator. ICUs will likely come under more pressure,” The COVID−19 Science Advisory Table said in a Twitter post about the projections.

As of Friday there were 130 patients in Ontario intensive care due to COVID−19.

The science table’s report flagged that COVID−19 cases are rising in most of the province’s public health units. Test positivity is also increasing while testing rates remain flat, indicating a real rise in cases, the group said.

A recent surge in daily reported cases means future case growth is hard to predict, the group said. The latest modelling doesn’t include case growth projections beyond this month.

That recent bump is linked in the report to colder weather driving people indoors and capacity limits lifted on some settings in October, including stadiums, restaurants and gyms, which are all accepting proof of vaccination.

The government announced a pause this week on further reopening plans in light of the case increase. Night clubs, strip clubs, sex clubs and bathhouses were due to lose capacity limits next week but those limits will now be in place for at least another month.

The science table said pausing reopening was the right decision, and recommended policies that support proper masking and full vaccination.

As cases are expected to rise into the winter, the science table also pointed out that risk from the disease is still inequitable. Lower−income people, essential workers and minority groups have a greater chance of dying from the illness, according to the group’s research.

Overall high vaccination coverage also hides inequities across communities, the experts said. In Toronto, for example, fewer than 60 per cent of Indigenous adults are fully vaccinated, compared with a rate higher than 80 per cent for the the city’s total adult population.

“A one−sized response does not save all – we learned that last winter. We can make this winter different,” the group said on Twitter.

Health Minister Christine Elliott said the province will continue with a “phased and cautious approach” to reopening the economy and will keep assessing public health indicators.

She noted that an increase in cases amid cooler weather and loosened public health restrictions “always expected” and said the months ahead will require “continued vigilance.”

Holly McKenzie−Sutter, The Canadian Press

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