COVID-19: Ontario hospitalizations continue to rise, 12 new deaths reported

The number of people with COVID-19 who are hospitalized continues to climb in Ontario, while 12 new deaths were reported Monday.

Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott posted that 2,467 people were hospitalized with the disease, while noting that not all hospitals report on weekends. That’s twice as many as the 1,232 people as were reported in hospital with COVID-19 one week ago.

There are 438 people with COVID-19 in intensive care units Monday, compared to 248 patients a week ago.

The seven-day rolling average of people in ICU stands at 349 people, said Elliott.

The ICU statistics are now one of the key indicators of the spread of the virus across the province.

In other key indicators, the effective reproduction number R(t) is 1.29. A number over 1.0 indicates the virus is spreading. The test positivity rate is 26.7 per cent.

Ontario reported 12 new deaths, although some were added to the daily count due to a data cleanup.

Elliott reported 9,706 new cases laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Monday.

As of Dec. 31, Ontario restricted access to PCR tests to high-risk individuals who are symptomatic and/or are at risk of severe illness from COVID-19, frontline workers, residents in high-risk settings and other vulnerable populations. As a result, the true number of infections is higher than the daily new cases reported.

The Eastern Ontario Health Unit, which included Cornwall and Hawkesbury, reported 177 new cases. Leeds, Grenville and Lanark reported 60 new cases, the same number as Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox & Addington.

These numbers may change as health units report their own numbers later in the day, because statistics are collected at different times.

About 93,000 doses of vaccine were administered across the province on Sunday. So far, 91.1 per cent of Ontario residents over the age of 12 have received one dose, and 88.4 per cent have received two doses.

COVID-19 in Ottawa

Ottawa Public Health reported 64 people in hospital with active cases of COVID-19 Monday, and five people in intensive care.

The number of people hospitalized with the disease in Ottawa has climbed sharply from mid-December, when it was in the single digits, but is still below the all-time peak of 125 reached during the pandemic’s third wave in April 2021.

The number of patients in ICU in Ottawa has risen less quickly than hospitalizations so far during this wave fuelled by the Omicron variant. The number of people in ICU hovered at none or one in mid-December, compared to the five reported Monday. During the pandemic peak in April 2021, there were as many as 31 people in Ottawa ICU units.

OPH reported six new outbreaks in health-care institutions. Three of the new outbreaks are in retirement homes: the Revera Windsor Park, the Chartwell Rideau Place and the Revera Edinburgh. There is also an outbreak at the May Court Hospice, one in a shelter and another in a unit at the Civic campus of the Ottawa Hospital.

There are now a total of 99 ongoing outbreaks in  health care: 17 in long-term care homes; 28 in retirement homes; 20 in hospitals; and 34 in the “other” category,  which includes group homes and shelters.

There were no reported ongoing or new outbreaks in childcare centres or in the community. However, OPH points out that there have been delays in reporting outbreaks due to the surge in cases and lack of PCR tests.

Ottawa Public Health reported 526 new cases and one new death as of Sunday afternoon.

There are currently 8,217 reported active cases in the city,

Among those tested between Jan. 3 and Jan. 9, the percentage of tests that were positive for COVID-19 was 32.7.

Meanwhile, OPH announced that it has more than 40,000 vaccine appointments available for the week of Jan. 10 for eligible Ottawa residents who need a first, second or booster dose.

PSA: New groups eligible for drop-ins, and over 40K COVID-19 vaccination appointments still available this week for Ottawa residents

Read more: https://t.co/1u3VRUiuMN— Ottawa Public Health (@OttawaHealth) January 9, 2022

It also announced expanded eligibility for groups to drop in at specified OPH vaccination sites.

As of Monday, eligibility at certain community clinics will be increased to prioritize immunizing the following four groups: Individuals aged 60 and older; educational and child-care workers (teachers, education workers and child-care workers — this includes, but is not limited to principals, teachers, assistants, cleaners, office staff, early childhood educators, bus drivers, etc. — working or living in Ottawa); health-care workers; and pregnant women.

Meanwhile, Ottawa Public Health says it has asked the province to add symptomatic people who live with health-care workers to the list of people given priority for PCR laboratory-based testing.

While symptomatic health-care workers themselves are given priority for PCR testing, their household members are not.

OPH, in a letter sent to Ottawa doctors, said this creates “significant challenges for physicians” who therefore need to isolate if someone they live with has symptoms.

“We have heard these concerns and have asked the Province to consider adding symptomatic household members of health care workers to the PCR testing prioritization list,” said the letter.

The letter also clarifies the new isolation guidance issued by the province on Dec. 30.

The province requires people to isolate if they or any member of their household experience one major or two minor symptoms of COVID-19, or test positive on a PCR or rapid antigen test.

OPH has clarified that the isolation period for the entire household is meant to start on the same day and be counted concurrently rather than consecutively, said the letter to physicians.

“Therefore, an entire household would isolate for the same five-day period (if everyone is fully vaccinated or under 12 years of age and not working in a highest risk setting) rather than five days for the symptomatic individual and an additional five days from break of contact for those who remain asymptomatic.”

If another member of the household becomes symptomatic during the isolation period, the household should count the isolation period from the second person’s symptom onset.

However, the person who first experienced symptoms could end isolation five  days after their own symptom onset provided their symptoms have been improving for 24 hours or 48 hours if they were experiencing gastrointestinal symptoms, said the letter to physicians.

If testing is available, a negative PCR test is still sufficient to rule out COVID-19 in a symptomatic individual and allow isolation to end for this person and their asymptomatic household members.

If PCR testing is not available, a symptomatic individual who tests negative on two rapid antigen tests 24 to 48 hours apart can also be considered cleared from isolation.

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