Quebec health institute forecasts decline in COVID-19 hospitalizations

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MONTREAL — The number of hospitalizations linked to COVID-19 in Quebec is expected to decline over the next two weeks, a Quebec government health-care research institute said Wednesday.

The Institut national d'excellence en santé et en services sociaux is forecasting that the number of people with the disease hospitalized outside of intensive care will decline to 1,912 over the next two weeks, while the number of patients in intensive care will drop to 70.

The provincial Health Department reported 2,372 patients in hospital with the disease Wednesday, a decline of 37 from the day before. That included 92 people in intensive care, an increase of two.

The institute said in a news release it expects the number of new patients to decline to around 150 a day. On Wednesday, health officials said 213 people had been admitted to hospital in the previous 24 hours and 250 were discharged.

Dr. Matthew Oughton, an infectious disease specialist at Montreal's Jewish General Hospital, said that even though the number of new hospitalizations may be levelling off, the virus remains present in Quebec.

"Our average number of cases per day, running somewhere around 2,000 cases across the province per day, is still about double what we were (at) exactly a year ago and our number of patients needing hospitalization as a result of COVID-19 is still (more than) three times higher than where we were a year ago," he said in an interview Wednesday.

While the situation remains "relatively stable" in Quebec hospitals, Oughton said that with the number of COVID-19 patients still elevated, the backlog of postponed "semi-elective investigations and procedures" continues to grow.

Adding to that problem, Oughton said, are the thousands of health-care workers who are absent due to infection. The Health Department said Wednesday that 9,514 health-care workers were off the job due to COVID-19, a rise of 98 from the day before.

Oughton said reducing the backlog of procedures is "going to require a massive and co-ordinated and very prolonged effort."

For example, he said, the backlog means people have to wait for procedures that could diagnose early-stage cancers.

"As a result, if and when they get diagnosed, they're at a later stage, which inevitably means worse outcomes, usually means more invasive investigations, usually means longer hospitalizations with higher rates of complications and usually means overall poorer responses to treatment," he said. "This is this huge and growing burden on the health-care system."

Quebec reported on Wednesday 2,066 new cases confirmed through PCR testing, which is limited to higher-risk groups, with 11.5 per cent of tests analyzed Tuesday coming back positive.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 27, 2022.

Jacob Serebrin, The Canadian Press

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