Ontario records 138 deaths due to COVID-19 as it grapples with surge in pediatric respiratory illnesses

Ontario is reporting 138 deaths due to COVID-19 over the past week as the province grapples with a surge in respiratory illnesses in children.  (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press - image credit)
Ontario is reporting 138 deaths due to COVID-19 over the past week as the province grapples with a surge in respiratory illnesses in children. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press - image credit)

Ontario has seen 138 more people die due to COVID-19 over the past week as it grapples with a surge in respiratory illnesses in children that is straining hospital resources across the province.

That's an increase from the previous seven days when the province reported that 120 people died with the virus.

However, newly reported data from the Ministry of Health shows the number of people in hospital with COVID-19 dropped from 1,842 last Thursday to 1,722 this Wednesday.

The province says there are 143 people in ICUs due to the virus, 55 of them on ventilators. Last week, there were 140 in intensive care, with 57 people on ventilators.

Meanwhile, Ontario's positivity rate dipped to 11.5 per cent, down from 14.6 last week.

Positivity rates can vary depending on the number of people who test for the virus. This past January, the province moved to limit PCR testing to high-risk populations and settings only.

The new numbers come as Ontario faces what its top doctor has called a "triple threat" of a bad flu season, COVID-19 and the resurgence of a viral illness in children known as RSV.

On Thursday, new data from Critical Care Services Ontario showed the province's pediatric intensive care units are operating over capacity. The figures show the number of children receiving care exceeds the number of available beds across the province as respiratory illnesses surge in kids.

To prevent hospitalization and the spread of respiratory illness, doctors are advising people to wear masks when possible, get immunized against COVID-19 and influenza and to avoid gathering when sick.

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore previously said the province's battle against multiple respiratory illnesses could lead to a decision on masking recommendations within a few weeks.