Ontario Virus Cases Cresting at ‘Very High Level’ Amid Lockdown

Ontario’s latest Covid-19 wave appears to be peaking, albeit at a very high level, as sweeping restrictions introduced earlier this month start to have an impact, along with efforts to vaccinate more people in virus hot spots.

Officials cautioned, however, that because of an earlier swell in infections, intensive care units are still seeing fresh records in the number of virus patients. That’s putting the hospital system under incredible pressure, according to data from the Ontario Covid-19 Science Advisory Table.

“We still have a long journey in front of us and please know that the way down will be slower than the way up, particularly for our hospitals,” Adalsteinn Brown, a doctor who is co-chair of the group, said in a news briefing Thursday. “So while we’ve had a good start, it’s nothing more than that. We cannot afford a fourth wave.”

Ontario Virus Cases Cresting at ‘Very High Level’ Amid Lockdown

Ontario reported just less than 3,800 new cases a day for the seven-day period from April 22 through April 28, according to Canadian government data. That was an improvement from an average of 4,326 cases in the seven days before that.

A third wave of the virus has created other problems in the health system. Clearing the surgical backlog will be very difficult and it will be some time before scheduled surgeries will be able to resume, Brown’s group said.

At current rates, daily new cases could fall back to February levels by June, but only in a “best case” scenario in which at least 100,000 people a day are vaccinated, sick workers stay home and mobility is very low, according to the group’s new models. Current conditions are not sufficient to reach that goal, Brown said. As things stand, with a stay-at-home order scheduled to lift in late May, cases will begin to climb again through June and July, the group said.

On April 16, Ontario Premier Doug Ford extended an emergency stay-at-home order to six weeks from four and implemented the strictest measures yet to limit the movement of people, some of which were later softened.

Canada’s biggest city, Toronto, followed a few days later with new measures ordering workplaces to close if they have more than five confirmed cases.

Faster-transmitting variants are responsible for more than 90% of cases. Workplace mobility remains too high, despite current restrictions, Brown said. Keeping sick workers home is essential, he said. This week the province said it will offer some paid sick leave benefits to workers.

“Many countries and jurisdictions have been here before,” Brown said. “It’s tempting to relax when the numbers start to turn your way but it will not work.”

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