The head of Ontario’s COVID-19 science advisory table says it is “very clear” that Ontario is now in the middle of a sixth wave of the pandemic driven by the easing of restrictions in the province.
“Oh, we’re in the middle of this,” Dr Peter Juni told CP24 on Tuesday night, whether he thinks the province is in the midst of a new wave. “When you look at our wastewater, it’s very clear. You can call it whatever you want, you know; whether it’s a resurgence of an Omicron wave or a sixth wave, it’s really a matter of understanding whether it’s BA No. 2 wave.”
He added that the highly infectious Omicron subvariant cannot be to blame for Ontario’s rising case count and added that it has a lot to do with “caution in the air.”
“The point here is really it’s totally our responsibility to see what we’re looking for and we’ve gotten a little bit ahead of ourselves and here we are,” Juni said. “And we just have our job to keep the slope of the wave relatively flat so that we don’t have to be challenged again in our hospitals.”
COVID-19 hospitalizations in Ontario have risen more than 23 percent from a week ago, with 790 patients currently in hospital.
Juni estimated, based on viral levels measured in wastewater, that Ontario is currently seeing 30,000 to 35,000 new infections per day. It is nearly impossible to measure the actual number of cases as testing has been severely curtailed in the province.
The Ford government is moving forward with lifting COVID-19 restrictions in the province, with nearly all restrictions set to lift in April.
When the government announced its plans several weeks ago, health officials said an increase in cases was to be expected with the easing of restrictions, but the province now has tools like vaccines and medicines to manage its impact. . Virus.
In a statement Tuesday to CTV News Toronto, Ontario’s health ministry did not say specifically whether it sees the province in the middle of a new wave, but did say that Ontario hospitals are equipped to cope.
“As Dr. Moore has previously stated, the indicator is expected to rise as Ontario people increasingly interact with each other. However, thanks to our high vaccination rates and natural immunity as well as the advent of antivirals, Ontario have the necessary tools to manage the impact of the virus,” the ministry said in its statement. “The latest modeling shows that our hospitals and health systems can manage any predictable scenario, while addressing the surgical backlog due to the pandemic.” Do not compromise our ability to continue to do so.”
“The Chief Medical Officer of Health will continue to monitor the data and evidence on an ongoing basis, as they have during the pandemic.”
However, Juni warned on Tuesday that modeling estimates based on a modest increase in transmission with minor changes in behavior are “just a scenario”.
“This is not what we are seeing now. We see more than that, people wear less masks and they have more contacts,” Juni said. “Therefore, you can expect all numbers to be in the upper bound higher than we estimate. This will lead to a worst-case scenario.”
Many doctors and health officials have said there should be no rush to lift some of the most basic health measures, such as wearing masks in crowded or high-risk settings.
Juni said the idea that the mask ban would be lifted and never returned “probably won’t go on like this. We just need to be aware of it.”
“If we now pick up masking for example in our collective setting, etc., it can be very challenging.”
He added that “before we lift any further restrictions and again strongly advise people: please wear a mask, please get vaccinated.”
Epidemiologist Dr. Raivat Devanandan also spoke with CP24 on Tuesday night and said the lifting of restrictions should not be tied to arbitrary calendar dates, but to measurable epidemiological indicators.
“I anticipate that as night falls, there will be an increase in hospitalizations and deaths followed by rising cases, perhaps lower than earlier in the pandemic because of the power of vaccination, but unavoidably so. “
He said equipment such as wearing masks, vaccinations and checking symptoms should be kept “as much as possible”.
Dr. Alan Grill, chief of family medicine at Markham Staffville Hospital, told CP24 that he is concerned about increasing cases among his patients, but also about those who are not seeking treatment for other illnesses. Because they are trying to avoid the virus.
“The last thing we want to do is there are patients who aren’t getting care because they’re worried about COVID and worried about leaving their homes and suddenly you have a bunch of sick people with COVID. There is a group and on top of that, you have people who are not managing their other health care needs that we have to take care of,” he said. “So we will continue to do our best with the resources we have.”