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Ontario sees 3,682 new COVID-19 cases as ICU admissions climb to pandemic high

Ontario reported another 3,682 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 40 more deaths linked to the illness on Thursday, as overall admissions to intensive care units topped 800.

Public health units collectively administed 134,920 doses of vaccines yesterday

Paramedics with Ornge ambulance service load a patient outside Scarborough General Hospital earlier this month. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Ontario reported another 3,682 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 40 more deaths linked to the illness on Thursday, as overall admissions to intensive care units topped 800.

The 40 additional deaths in today's update are the most on a single day during the third wave of the pandemic in the province. The seven-day average of daily deaths, a lagging indicator that follows surges in cases, climbed to 27.1, also a third-wave high. 

For comparison, the seven-day average of deaths in Ontario peaked at more than 60 during the second wave earlier this year, before most residents of long-term care and retirement homes had been vaccinated.

The official death toll stands at 7,829. 

Ontario's chief coroner said the province has averaged two deaths per day over the past two weeks, "an excess of anything we saw during Wave 1 and over Wave 2," Dr. Dirk Huyer said. 

At a news conference Thursday, he also said people in the age range of 30 to 70 are dying of COVID-19 before seeking medical help because they are not recognizing their symptoms as requiring hospitalization until it is too late. 

"Many of these people were found deceased," he said, something he said has never been seen in Ontario throughout the pandemic. 

It's not that people were ignoring symptoms, Huyer said: "People were in stable condition and then deteriorated very quickly to their unfortunate deaths."

According to the Ministry of Health, there are now 806 people with COVID-related critical illnesses in Ontario's ICUs. Some 588 of those patients require a ventilator to breathe. Both figures are all-time highs.

While the rate of growth in cases appears to be slowing, Ontario's COVID-19 science advisory table cautioned that rising admissions to ICUs are essentially "baked in" for the next several weeks.

Signs case numbers are 'plateauing,' top doctor says

At a news conference Thursday, Ontario's chief medical officer of health said the province's case count may be flattening following a drop in daily numbers over the past few days. 

"Some things are plateauing and some things are dipping down a bit," Dr. David Williams said, adding that there are indications that Ontario might be starting to bend the curve, but not enough time has passed yet to confirm this. 

Thursday's figure is the second time in the past three days that case counts have been fewer than 4,000 after almost a week of cases surpassing that number. 

"We are just starting to see the impact of the stay-at-home order and we need to watch it a bit further," Williams said. 

The Ministry of Health confirmed yesterday that Williams issued a new directive to hospitals in northern Ontario to stop all non-emergency surgeries to make room for patient transfers. Pediatric hospitals were the only facilities exempt from the directive, the ministry said.

That marked a significant expansion of an earlier order of the same nature to hospitals throughout southern Ontario. 

Speaking on April 1, when the science table warned that ICU admissions would likely exceed 800 by the end of the month, co-chair Adalsteinn Brown said the province would face the "definite possibility" of triaging emergency care

"Eight-hundred is a place where we are not able to provide all of the care that we would want to people ... That is a place where clinicians have to make hard decisions you would never want them to have to make," he said at the time.

"You will see loss of life."

WATCH | Who gets critical care in Ontario ICUs as demand surges?

Ontario's protocol for deciding who gets critical care in ICUs, explained

CBC News Network (Highlights)

17 days ago
9:08
Ontario has prepared a triage protocol for deciding who gets life-saving care when the time comes that there are more patients in need of critical care than ICU beds. Dr. James Downar, who co-wrote the triage strategy, explains how it works. 9:08

The medical officers of health in Ontario's two hardest-hit regions of Toronto and Peel have said that, increasingly, admissions to ICUs are essential workers and their family members. As part of its recommendations to get hospitalizations under control, the science table has repeatedly called for the province to provide more assistance to essential workers, beyond what is available through the federal Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit.

After months of provincial inaction, Premier Doug Ford confirmed at a morning news conference that more help for workers is coming, though he didn't provide a timeline. House Leader Paul Calandra suggested yesterday though that a plan is "imminent."

Speaking from outside a home where he is self-isolating after a staffer tested positive for COVID-19 this week, Ford also apologized for introducing measures last week that expanded police powers and prohibited several outdoor activities. Both moves sparked immediate public backlash, and the government reversed course in the subsequent days,

"We moved too quick; if I make a mistake, I correct it immediately," Ford said. "I'm sorry and I apologize to each and every one of you."

WATCH | Ford says paid sick leave improvements coming after months of inaction:

Ontario premier promises help with paid sick days

Canada

17 days ago
0:49
Ontario Premier Doug Ford spoke from COVID-19 isolation on Thursday to announce his government will work on its own support program for those who lose wages when they're forced off work because of the coronavirus. 0:49

Meanwhile, public health units collectively administered 134,920 more doses of COVID-19 vaccines yesterday. As of last night, 351,354 people had gotten both shots of a vaccine while more than 3.2 million, about 26.5 per cent of Ontario's total population, have had at least one dose.

The province has used 4,266,802, or about 82 per cent, of the 5,248,345 doses it has received from the federal government to date.

Pharmacists in the Greater Toronto Area told CBC News this week that demand for the AstraZeneca has shot "through the roof" since the province lowered the eligibility age to 40 from 55. 

The new cases reported today include:

  • 1,131 in Toronto
  • 507 in Peel Region
  • 436 in York Region
  • 279 in Ottawa
  • 200 in Durham Region
  • 165 in Niagara Region
  • 144 in Hamilton
  • 129 in Halton Region
  • 113 in Middlesex-London

The seven-day average of daily cases fell to 4,176.

Labs completed 54,246 tests for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, and logged a provincewide positivity rate of 7.8 per cent, according to the Ministry of Health.

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