Mar 11, 2021

By Christine Ross

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Ontario’s science advisors say the province’s ability to control the spread of COVID variants over the next few weeks will determine if there will be a third wave. Vaccinating long term care residents and workers has paid off in declining deaths and illness but the progress has stalled outside that sector.

“Declines in community cases and test positivity have leveled off, cases are increasing in most public health units as we see mobility rise, said Dr. Adalsteinn Brown, co-chair of the Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table. “The variants of concern continue to spread across Ontario and our ability to control the rate of spread will determine whether we return to normal or we face a third wave of infection.”

The latest projections show progress has stalled outside of long-term care and that Ontario could see as many as 8,000 cases per-day by April. Four-in-ten cases across the province are now the variants of concern and the surgery backlog has grown to 227,000 and if cases rise, ICU’s will be strained.

A report from StatsCan finds there were over 13,000 excess deaths reported during the pandemic year, 5 percent more than expected. Dr. Brown says it’s a global trend.

“Reading about excess deaths beyond COVID-19 in the United States, it’s a very high level there as well, so it seems that everywhere the pandemic is having both an impact on death from COVID infection, or death from other causes, it seems similar regardless of the different policy positions or different types of lockdown.”

Dr. Brown adds we’re still in the “early stages of the minefield” and stresses the actions of all Ontarians will determine if there will be a third wave.

One bright spot is in longer term care, where Dr. Brown says vaccines are “paying off” and deaths have declined, with one resident death over the past six days and outbreaks down to 25 homes with resident cases.

Read the latest projections here

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