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COVID-19 hospitalizations in Ontario jump 20 per cent from previous day

The number of people with COVID-19 in Ontario hospitals went up 20 per cent Tuesday from the previous day, as wastewater indicators suggest the number of cases has been on the rise since early to mid-March.

Ontario reported 790 people in hospital with COVID-19 and 165 in intensive care Tuesday, up from 655 in hospital and 158 in intensive care on Monday.

There were also seven more COVID-19 deaths reported, and 1,610 new cases of COVID-19. The province's top doctor has said the actual number of new cases is likely 10 times higher than the daily log, since access to PCR testing is restricted.

Provincial data show 12,302 tests were completed over the last day, with a positivity rate of 14.4 per cent. Monday's test positivity rate of 17.9 per cent was the highest since late January, when it hit 18.8 per cent during the Omicron wave. 

Ontario dropped its proof-of-vaccination requirements on March 1 and lifted mask mandates in most indoor settings on March 21. All remaining public health restrictions are set to end near the end of April.

In an interview late last week, Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious diseases expert with the University Health Network, said Ontario is at the beginning of a "spring wave" of COVID-19.

"I think what's unclear is how big this wave is going to be," he said. "Some of the modelling suggests that it's not going to be nearly as impactful or large as prior waves. I hope that that's accurate."

Ontario's panel of COVID-19 science advisers said earlier this month that hospitalizations and ICU admissions would likely go up as more rules were lifted, but should still be well below the peaks reached at the height of the Omicron wave.

The modelling released March 17 predicted that a moderate increase in COVID-19 transmission would likely see hospitalizations rise, but not above 1,000.

A moderate increase could occur if people boost their contacts by 40 per cent and half of those people are not wearing masks, or if people increase their contacts by 30 per cent and half are maskless but the more transmissible Omicron subvariant BA.2 becomes dominant.

Ontario's top doctor, Dr. Kieran Moore, has said he expected the BA.2 variant to become dominant this month.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 29, 2022.

The Canadian Press

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