COVID surge has Ontario bracing for more hospitalizations

Photo of Premier Doug Ford courtesy CBC

Ontario announced new restrictions, pushed out the return to in-person learning for schools by two weeks and cancelled most non-critical surgeries and procedures to combat rising COVID-19 cases.

At a Monday press conference, Premier Doug Ford announced the province’s moves amid a rising number of cases and Omicron’s rapid spread.

The province recorded 13,578 new COVID-19 cases on Monday and reported 1,232 people are now in hospital.

“We face a tsunami of new cases in the coming days and weeks,” said Ford stating projections could see 1% of people infected with Omicron requiring hospitalization.

In an effort to slow the spread of Omicron and protect the province’s healthcare system, Ford indicated virtual learning will replace in-person learning in schools for at least the next two weeks.

By Wednesday, restaurants and pubs will be closed to indoor dining and gyms and other indoor gathering areas will also be closed. The government indicated capacity at malls and personal care businesses will be reduced to 50% capacity.

The government is encouraging all who are able to work remotely to do so, indoor gatherings are being capped at five people and outdoor gatherings have been limited to a max of 10 people.

All non-urgent procedures and surgeries — nearly 8,000 to 10,000 per week — were cancelled until at least January 26.

Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore said the economy is being hit hard with an absentee rate of between 20 to 30% due to COVID-19 infections.

Although hospitalizations are up, Moore said, “The vast majority won’t require intensive care or mechanical ventilation,” and will likely only need to be treated with oxygen.

Officials in Ontario expect the demand for hospital admissions to be short-lived and peak by the end of January.

Melanie Risdon is a reporter with the Western Standard

Reporter (Alberta)

Melanie Risdon is an Alberta Reporter for the Western Standard and Alberta Report based in the Calgary Headquarters. She has over 20 years’ experience in media at Global News, Rogers and Corus.

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