COVID-19 hospitalizations virtually unchanged from last week as Ontario slowly climbs out of sixth wave

The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 is virtually unchanged from the previous week, as Ontario’s health care system continues to be under strain despite a notable decline in virus activity in the community.

The latest data from the Health Ministry suggests there are now 1,662 people in hospital with COVID-19, up from 1,679 at this time last week and a sixth-wave peak of 1,734 on April 27.

The number of patients being treated in intensive care also remains stable. As of Friday, there were 210 COVID patients in the Ontario ICU, one more than last week. About half of those patients (99) are currently breathing with the help of a ventilator.

At the height of Omicron’s initial wave in January, more than 4,000 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 and it took weeks for patient volume to come down.

“Hospitalization, although it seems like they are starting to go down, it really took a long time,” infectious disease specialist Dr. Susy Hota warned during an interview with CP24 on Friday morning. “We’re kind of stabilized at around 1,700 patients in Ontario hospitals with COVID and that’s a lot. It’s really kind of adding to the stress of it all. Fortunately, it seems that the wave is already starting to go down in all regions of the province. But in the coming weeks and months there is still a lot of recovery that needs to happen in hospitals.”

Sewage surveillance currently points to a reduction in virus activity in all parts of Ontario, although the decline has only just begun in GTA, where transmission remains near the peak of the sixth wave.

Meanwhile, other public health indicators, such as head counts and positivity rates, increasingly suggest an exit from the sixth wave of the pandemic.

According to the latest data, another 2,418 cases were detected by PCR tests in the last 24 hours, compared to 2,760 during the same one-day period last week and 4,668 on April 22.

The positivity rate over the last seven days has also dropped week over week and now stands at 13.8%. It was 14.8 percent last Friday and 18 percent the previous Friday.

“I think it’s reassuring that in every region, or in all six types of areas where we’re doing wastewater surveillance, we’re seeing that trend, everything is going down right now,” Hota told CP24. “While in the past we have seen it in such a way that in some regions it is declining and others are stable or still increasing, right now it seems that all groups are declining. So I think it’s a very positive sign. It doesn’t mean that we drop all measures and, you know, go crazy, but I think it’s important to know that we’re on the right track. Things are getting worse and we should feel some relief in the near future.”

17 new deaths

Ontario continues to report a large number of deaths from COVID-19, as deaths are considered the most lagging indicator.

Friday confirmed another 17 new net deaths, bringing the total number of people who have died after contracting COVID-19 in the past two years to 12,938.

The number of active outbreaks in vulnerable settings also remains near the peak of the sixth wave reached last week.

As of Friday, there were a total of 214 active outbreaks in nursing homes and another 166 in nursing homes. At this time last week there were 221 active outbreaks in nursing homes and another 187 in nursing homes.

The numbers used in this story are from the Ontario Ministry of Health COVID-19 Daily Epidemiological Summary. The number of cases for any city or region may differ slightly from what the province reports, because local units report figures at different times.

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