Deaths from COVID-19 in the Canadian province of Ontario could exceed those in the first wave of the pandemic, public health officials said on Tuesday, warning that the health system could also soon be overwhelmed by the surge infections.
According to a reportAuthorities in Ontario have said daily deaths could double to 50 to 100 by the end of February if current restrictions related to novel coronaviruses are maintained.
The number of patients in intensive care units in the province’s hospitals could reach 500 in mid-January and exceed 1,000 in February in worst-case scenarios, they said.
“Without a significant reduction in contacts, the health care system will be overwhelmed and mortality will exceed wave one totals before a vaccine has time to take effect,” Dr. Adalsteinn Brown, Scientific Advisory Table co-chair The province’s COVID-19, said Tuesday morning.
Ontario, the most populous province in Canada, imposed additional COVID-19 lockdown measures in late December to try to stem the surge in cases and hospitalizations, but health officials said the situation continued to be of concern.
Premier Doug Ford is expected to announce additional restrictions later Tuesday.
Ford last week said the COVID-19 projections would “knock off your chair” Ontarians.
Thin stretched hospitals
Right now, a quarter of Ontario hospitals already have no available ICU beds, while another quarter only have one or two free beds, according to the province’s projections.
Hospitalizations have increased 72% in the past four weeks, while ICU admissions have increased 61%.
“Intensive care occupancy is now over 400 beds and our scenarios are that this could easily double by the end of the first week of February,” Brown said.
“The current restrictions will need to be tightened if the goal is to reduce the spread of cases, reduce the crisis in our health system and save lives.”
Dr Nadia Alam, a family physician in Georgetown, Ontario, a town about 60 km (37 miles) west of downtown Toronto, told Al Jazeera hospitals were full and struggling to deal with high numbers of COVID and non-COVID patients last month.
She said many nurses and other healthcare workers are working double shifts, as the network is stretched to its limits. “We are short of staff. We are out of space, ”she said at the time.
Ontario reported 2,903 new one-day COVID-19 infections on Tuesday, including eight new cases of the variant first discovered in the UK.
Ontario reports 2,903 cases of # COVID-19