ICU numbers have not soared in tandem with the variant’s spread
Omicron has broken through another COVID-19 record with the province reporting 9,571 new cases.
That daily total is up from Thursday’s record 5,790 cases and confirms provincial modelling that shows the new variant could easily push cases above 10,000 a day.
However, ICU numbers have not soared in tandem with the variant’s spread.
Hospitals were treating 508 COVID-19 patients Friday, up from 440 the day before, but the number in ICU dropped by one to 164.
However, another six deaths related to COVID-19 were confirmed, bringing the number of lives lost to the pandemic to 10,146.
Alexandra Hilkene, a spokesperson for Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott, said in a statement that the rise in cases was expected due to the highly-transmissible Omicron variant and will likely continue.
“The day after Quebec reported over 9,000 cases in a single day, Ontario has done the same,” Hilkene said. “While the province’s ICUs continue to remain stable, we expect the number of admissions to rise in the coming weeks as Omicron spreads, particularly among the unvaccinated.
“To date, the effectiveness of vaccines has meant that despite a rapid increase in cases, we have not seen a corresponding increase in hospitalizations and ICU admissions,” she said.
Of the new cases reported Friday, 7,425 were in fully vaccinated individuals, 1,536 were in unvaccinated individuals, 356 were in partially vaccinated individuals and 254 were in individuals with unknown vaccination status.
Hilkene said the province has improved ICU capacity with 600 beds available immediately and another almost 500 in the wings as surge capacity.
“Vaccines remain the best protection against Omicron, and Ontario continues to urgently ramp up its capacity to administer COVID-19 vaccines, with over 253,000 doses administered Wednesday,” she said. “As the province continues to administer booster doses to all Ontarians 18 and older over the coming days and weeks, the province has put in place additional public health and workplace safety measures, such as capacity and social gathering limits, that will help to curb transmission and continue to safeguard Ontario’s hospital and ICU capacity.”
Hilkene said the provincial government would continue monitoring the situation, and was prepared to act if needed to “protect our health care system and the health and safety of Ontarians.”
In the past, that statement has meant further public health or lockdown measures.