‘We’re not out of the woods just yet’
Ontario is likely to see a steady decline in daily COVID-19 cases over the next 10 days and potentially the summer, but the Delta variant has the potential to force a fourth wave, new modelling forecasts.
Dr. Adalsteinn Brown, co-chair of the Ontario COVID-19 Science Table, said the modelling suggests that the province can look forward to a much better summer if proper precautions are followed.
“We’ve made strong progress on vaccination and we can point to falling hospitalization rates and to their declining ICU occupancy,” Brown said Thursday. “To be clear, we’re not out of the woods just yet.”
Daily cases in mid-August could range from a best-case scenario of about 200 up to 2,500 depending on public health measures and vaccination rates, the modelling shows.
Brown described the worst-case scenario of 2,500 cases as “highly unlikely,” but noted hospital ICUs still have more COVID-19 patients than they did at the peak of the second wave.
A strong second-dose strategy in hotspot communities is needed to avoid a surge in Delta cases, the modellers say.
“The Delta variant is more transmissible and may be more dangerous,” the modelling documents say. “It will likely be the dominant form of the virus this summer. It is critical to control the spread of this variant.”
Ontario reported another 590 cases of COVID-19 and 11 more deaths Thursday.
The province conducted 31,400 tests for COVID-19 and recorded 130 new cases in Peel, 114 in Toronto, 61 in Waterloo, 38 in Hamilton and 32 in York Region.
Toronto usually has more total daily cases than Peel but both are considered COVID-19 hotspots.
Hospitals were treating 516 COVID-19 patients — 450 in intensive care including 24 transfers from Manitoba — and 291 were on ventilators.
The modelling forecasts that adherence to public health measures could bring the number of COVID-19 patients in ICU below 200 by mid-July which would allow hospitals to begin resuming their normal operations.