Ontario Science Table's COVID-19 warning: Cases, hospitalization in Ontario have 'stopped declining'

·3 min read
A man walks past a poster reminding people to wear face masks at the waiting room of a bus terminal in Toronto, Canada, on March 2, 2022. Canada confirmed 5,630 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday afternoon, elevating its national caseload to 3,302,645 with 36,687 deaths, CTV reported. (Photo by Zou Zheng/Xinhua via Getty Images) (Xinhua News Agency via Getty Images)

New modelling data released by Ontario's COVID-19 Science Advisory Table shows that the province is no longer seeing COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and ICU admissions decline.

"Given the relaxation of public health measures and consequent increase in transmission, hospital and ICU occupancy will likely increase over the next few weeks, but less than in January 2022 and for a limited period of time if changes in behaviour are only moderate," the findings from the expert table reads.

Ontario Science Advisory and Modelling Consensus Tables
March 17, 2022 (Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table)
Ontario Science Advisory and Modelling Consensus Tables March 17, 2022 (Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table)

If there is a moderate increase in transmission, defined as an increase in contacts of about 40 per cent with half of contacts maskless, or an approximate 30 per cent increase in contacts if BA.2 becomes dominant strain, with half of contacts maskless, hospitalizations are projected to rise just shy of 1,000 in April into May.

Ontario Science Advisory and Modelling Consensus Tables
March 17, 2022 (Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table)
Ontario Science Advisory and Modelling Consensus Tables March 17, 2022 (Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table)

Under the same circumstances, ICU occupancy are expected to hit 250 in May.

Ontario Science Advisory and Modelling Consensus Tables
March 17, 2022 (Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table)
Ontario Science Advisory and Modelling Consensus Tables March 17, 2022 (Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table)

Ontario’s COVID-19 wastewater signal is "increasing slightly" with the estimated daily number of infections, based on daily case growth from wastewater curve, is 15,000 to 20,000, but there is significant regional variation.

Ontario Science Advisory and Modelling Consensus Tables
March 17, 2022 (Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table)
Ontario Science Advisory and Modelling Consensus Tables March 17, 2022 (Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table)

"Until mid Dec 2021, an estimated 30 to 45 per cent of infections were reported; after change of testing strategy end of Dec 2021, an estimated 10 per cent of infections are reported," the information reads.

Ontario Science Advisory and Modelling Consensus Tables
March 17, 2022 (Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table)
Ontario Science Advisory and Modelling Consensus Tables March 17, 2022 (Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table)

Test positivity across Ontario has also stopped declining, moving above 10 per cent throughout March, while lower income ares continue to be hardest hit by COVID-19.

Ontario Science Advisory and Modelling Consensus Tables
March 17, 2022 (Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table)
Ontario Science Advisory and Modelling Consensus Tables March 17, 2022 (Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table)

The advisory table highlights that protection from a third dose of a COVID-19 vaccine has "plateaued in all age groups and is lower in marginalized communities" but the administration of third doses has "substantially reduced COVID-19 hospitalization and ICU occupancy."

"The severity of COVID-19 experienced in a population (risk of serious outcomes: hospitalization, ICU admission and death) will depend on...the immunity of the population resulting from vaccination and previous infection [and] the virulence of the variant (the likelihood that the variant will cause serious outcomes)," the information from Ontario's COVID-19 Science Advisory Table reads.

"Public health measures, including increased ventilation and filtration, physical distancing and wearing a well-fitted, high-quality mask can help reduce SARS- CoV-2 transmission in places where people gather indoors."

Ontario Science Advisory and Modelling Consensus Tables
March 17, 2022 (Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table)
Ontario Science Advisory and Modelling Consensus Tables March 17, 2022 (Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table)

A advisory table highlights that a recent study from the U.S. found that mandatory masking reduced the incidence of COVID-19 infection "consistently."

"Ontario remains vulnerable as long as the global pandemic continues," the advisory table warns.

"Although 56 per cent of the world population has now received two COVID-19 vaccine doses, that is still too few to build sufficient immunity globally."

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