November 30, 2023

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7th wave of COVID-19 rising across the province, Public Health Ontario’s latest report says

Cases of COVID-19 continue to rise across Ontario with most measures showing increases week-by-week since the seventh wave of the pandemic was declared on June 19.

In the last week, the province has reported 985 hospitalizations, of which 118 were in intensive care. Of those patients in ICUs, 48 required the use of a ventilator to breathe. 

Thirty-nine people died last week from the novel coronavirus. An average of 29 to 35 weekly deaths have been reported in the last three weeks.

In its latest weekly epidemiological summary, released on Thursday, Public Health Ontario says cases are rising in 31 out of 34 of the province’s public health units.

According to the latest weekly epidemiological summary from Public Health Ontario, percent positivity is up, climbing to 14.9 per cent as of July 14 from 13.2 per cent reported last week. Testing volume increased to 64,861 last week from 56,642 tests the week before. (Public Health Ontario)

Testing, contact tracing and outbreak management have been restricted to high-risk populations since January. While these are confirmed numbers, the case counts in the province are likely much higher due to limited testing.

“Counts in this report are an underestimate of the extent of COVID-19 activity in Ontario,” PHO’s report reads.

But among those tests as of July 14, the positivity rate is 14.9 per cent — up from 13.2 per cent at the end of last week, and 11.2 per cent two weeks ago. The new number is the highest reported since April.

The latest report focuses on the week of July 3 to 9 compared to the preceding week of June 26 to July 2. The comparison shows an increase in almost every metric.

Weekly cases among those eligible for testing increased by about 30 per cent.

Individuals 80 and older have higher rates of hospitalizations and deaths compared to other age groups. Outbreaks in high-risk settings, including long-term care homes and congregate care, have increased 87 per cent this week.

The province reported 42 outbreaks in long-term care facilities last week, 110 per cent higher than the 20 reported two weeks ago.

Moderna vaccines for youngest kids expected late next week

Meanwhile, Ontario expects to receive supplies of COVID-19 vaccines for children between the ages of six months and five years by “late next week.”

A spokesman for Health Minister Sylvia Jones said the province expects supply of the pediatric Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to come from the federal government by then, now that the shot has been approved in Canada. The news from Ontario follows a federal announcement that Health Canada has approved Moderna’s two-dose pediatric vaccine for young children.

The drug regulator says the vaccine can be administered in doses one-quarter the size approved for adults, at an interval of about four weeks between shots.

As of 8 a.m. Thursday, adults aged 18 to 59 who received their first booster at least five months prior could book their next shot through the province’s online portal. Appointments were also available through pharmacies, public health unit booking systems and at walk-in clinics.

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore has said he anticipates the current wave of infections will peak in the next two weeks. Moore also announced the expanded eligibility on Wednesday, but has signalled that young people who don’t have underlying health conditions may choose to wait for the fall, when it’s hoped that vaccines specifically targeting the Omicron variant will become available.

He added that Ontarians should speak with their health-care provider about whether a fourth dose is right for them, and said it’s recommended that people wait at least three months after a COVID-19 infection to get a booster shot.