Ontario reports 3,535 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 and 607 in ICUs
Omicron infectivity period doesn't appear shorter than other forms of COVID-19: PHO
Ontario reported a drop in hospitalizations of COVID-19 patients on Friday, but a slight increase for patients in intensive care.
The Ministry of Health said Friday morning that as of yesterday, there were 3,535 people with COVID-19 in hospitals. That's down from 3,645 the day before and 4,114 at the same time last week.
About 56 per cent of those patients were admitted for COVID-related illnesses while 44 per cent were already in hospital when they tested positive for the virus, according to the ministry.
There were 607 patients with COVID-19 who required intensive care, up from 599 the day before and 590 the same time last week.
Roughly 82 per cent of the people with COVID-19 in ICUs were admitted for reasons directly related to the virus.
The health ministry also reported another 68 deaths of people with the virus, bringing the official toll to 11,298.
More Ontarians with COVID-19 have died this month than in any other month since last January. January 2022 is currently on track to be among the deadliest months of the entire pandemic in the province, with 1,104 deaths confirmed thus far.
Omicron infectivity period doesn't appear shorter: PHO
Meanwhile, a report by Public Health Ontario says the period of infectivity for the Omicron variant of COVID-19 does not appear to be shorter than other forms of the virus, and may be longer in some cases.
The agency says that while there is limited evidence on the infectivity of Omicron, its own modelling data suggests people remain contagious for a similar amount of time.
And it says that, unlike other variants of concern, Omicron does not seem to show a faster viral clearance in vaccinated people compared with unvaccinated ones.
The findings are included in a report on strategies to cohort patients in acute care that was published last week.
They align with comments made earlier this month by Canada's chief medical officer of health, Dr. Theresa Tam, who said the latest evidence does not show the Omicron variant is contagious for less time than previous versions of the virus.
Ontario was one of several provinces to recently reduce the isolation period to five days from 10 days following the onset of symptoms for those who are vaccinated.
Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador, as well as Yukon and Nunavut, cut the isolation period to seven days for vaccinated people.
Wastewater testing shows downward trend: Jüni
Dr. Peter Jüni, scientific director of Ontario's COVID-19 Science Advisory Table, told CBC Radio's Metro Morning Friday that recent wastewater data continues to show a steady decline in COVID-19 cases.
Jüni said the latest analysis including additional data from more than 30 wastewater treatment plants and pumping stations that came in Thursday shows "careful good news.
"I'm a bit more optimistic since yesterday afternoon," Jüni said. "Looking at a curve in wastewater testing, we're going downward."
However, while COVID-19 hospitalizations have seen a drop in recent days, Jüni said ICU occupancy remains "very high."
When asked about Provincial Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore's message at a news conference Thursday about learning to live with the virus, ahead of some restrictions being lifted in the province including the reopening of indoor dining and gyms on Monday, Jüni said that might be Ontarian's only option.
"We don't have much of a choice, long-term," he said. "We need to ride out this wave but we need to do that carefully."
WATCH | Ontario's top doctor says people must learn to live with the virus:
With files from Sara Jabakhanji and The Canadian Press