Ontario's reported COVID-19 deaths drop after 7th-wave high

·2 min read
A nurse attends to a COVID-19 patient on a ventilator in the intensive care unit of Humber River Hospital, in Toronto, in January. Newly released data from the Ministry of Health Thursday shows the number of people in hospital with the virus is down slightly from 1382 this time last week to 1328.  (Evan Mitsui/CBC - image credit)
A nurse attends to a COVID-19 patient on a ventilator in the intensive care unit of Humber River Hospital, in Toronto, in January. Newly released data from the Ministry of Health Thursday shows the number of people in hospital with the virus is down slightly from 1382 this time last week to 1328. (Evan Mitsui/CBC - image credit)

Ontario is reporting 56 more deaths linked to COVID-19 over the past seven days, a marked drop from its seventh-wave high of 96 the week before.

The news comes two weeks after Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore told reporters the latest wave of the virus, driven by the BA.5 Omicron subvariant, has peaked. The province has said the seventh wave officially began June 19.

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Deaths are considered a "lagging indicator," one of a number of severe outcomes that can continue to rise even after a wave peaks.

Newly released data from the Ministry of Health Thursday shows the number of people in hospital with the virus is down slightly from 1382 this time last week to 1328.

The number of people in intensive care because of the virus dropped slightly — 137 Thursday compared to 142 a week ago.

COVID-19 patients in Ontario hospitals and ICUs

Test positivity on Thursday was 14.7 per cent, up slightly from last week's positivity rate of 13.4 per cent.

Positivity rates are based 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.

On Thursday, Public Health Ontario also released its latest COVID-19 status report for the week Aug. 7  to Aug. 13.

In it, the public health agency says case rates decreased overall, but rose among those ages zero to four and 12-19. Still, it says while the percentage of cases grew for the two groups  — by eight and nine per cent respectively — the rates remain low compared to those 20 and up.

The highest reported number of cases was seen in those 80 and older. Individuals in that age group also continue to have "much higher" rates of hospitalizations and deaths compared to all other age groups, PHO says.

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