Ontario's COVID-19 hospitalizations highest in 8 months; 121 new deaths reported

A nurse attends to a COVID-19 patient on a ventilator in the intensive care unit of Toronto's Humber River Hospital in January. The province's wastewater signal also suggests the prevalence of the virus is on the rise.  (Evan Mitsui/CBC - image credit)
A nurse attends to a COVID-19 patient on a ventilator in the intensive care unit of Toronto's Humber River Hospital in January. The province's wastewater signal also suggests the prevalence of the virus is on the rise. (Evan Mitsui/CBC - image credit)

Ontario is reporting 121 new COVID-19 deaths and 1,921 hospitalizations over the past seven days — the highest reported hospitalization rate since February.

The newly reported hospitalizations from the Ministry of Health's weekly data are a jump from 1,663 at the same time last week when the province reported 109 deaths.

Not since Feb. 9 has Ontario seen COVID-19 hospitalizations this high. On that day, the province reported 2,059 people in hospital with the virus.

The province's weekly data release normally includes seven individual days worth of information spanning the number of newly reported COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, intensive care admissions and deaths. Last week's release did not include three days of data from Oct. 15, 16 and 17 — which the ministry attributed to "technical difficulties."

The new numbers paint a stark picture of the growing toll of the virus, particularly amid an expected rise in hospitalizations beginning in the fall. Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore warned last month that the risk of transmission for the novel coronavirus would increase during the colder months.

Wastewater signals project marked rise coming

According to the data, the number of people in intensive care with COVID-19 dropped slightly from 158 this time last week to 148. Of those, 57 patients required a ventilator to breathe, up from 65 the week prior.

Test positivity on Thursday was 16.1 per cent, which is down slightly from 16.4 per cent last Thursday.

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.

Experts have said reported case counts are a severe underestimate of the actual extent of COVID-19 infections in Ontario.

The province's wastewater signal also suggests the prevalence of the virus is on the rise. It is currently at its highest point in about a month, with extrapolations predicting a marked rise in the coming weeks.

Public Health Ontario
Public Health Ontario

Meanwhile, last Friday marked 1,000 days since Toronto's first confirmed case of COVID-19, with the city warning that as people head indoors for fall and winter, the virus has "an increased opportunity to spread."

Bivalent vaccines, which are targeted to help protect against the Omicron variant of the virus, are "part of the necessary protection for all," the city said.