Ont. reports 75 more deaths linked to COVID-19, lowest positivity rate in nearly a month

Published Jan. 20, 2022 10:25 a.m. ET

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Ontario added another 75 virus-related fatalities to its overall death toll today as the province’s health minister says COVID-19 hospitalizations and intensive care admissions begin to show “signs of stabilization.”

According to the latest data released by the province on Thursday, there are currently 4,061 patients with COVID-19 in Ontario hospitals, up from 3,630 seven days ago. There are now 594 patients with COVID-19 in the ICU, up from 500 last Thursday.

The province says of those hospitalized patients, 55 per cent were admitted for COVID-19 and 45 per cent were admitted for other reasons.

On Wednesday, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore said about 50 per cent of the adults in intensive care units across Ontario are unvaccinated despite only making up about 10 per cent of the population.

While the province continues to see a rise in the number of COVID-19 patients in Ontario hospitals, officials said Wednesday that the rate of increase appears to have slowed in the past week.

“We are beginning to see signs of stabilization. Omicron cases are expected to peak this month with a peak in hospitalizations and ICU admissions to follow,” Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott said at a news conference, adding that at the beginning of the Omicron wave, the number of COVID-19 patients in Ontario hospitals was doubling every seven days.

“New hospitalizations are slowing and are now doubling closer to every two weeks. Experience in our hospitals has confirmed Omicron is not as severe as Delta, with far fewer patients requiring intensive care than in previous waves, despite much higher rates of transmission in the community.”

While there have been some early positive signs, Ontario Health CEO Matthew Anderson cautioned that hospitals won’t see the benefit of this slowing growth for a number of weeks.

“We still have hospitals that are under very challenging circumstances as we deal with these rising numbers,” he told reporters Wednesday. “Our health system will likely continue to experience challenges through February.”

Officials reported another 75 virus-related deaths today, which the province says happened over a 19-day span within the past month. This is the highest daily total logged since since Feb. 4, 2021 when 88 deaths were reported.

Another 7,757 new lab-confirmed cases were confirmed today but due to testing restrictions, that number is likely significantly lower than the true total.

With 42,907 tests processed over the past 24 hours, officials are reporting a provincewide positivity rate of 15.9 per cent, the lowest positivity rate in nearly a month. Most symptomatic adults in Ontario are still excluded from access to free PCR COVID-19 testing, so this metric likely does not accurately reflect the burden of infection in the province.

Of the new cases confirmed today, 1,079 involve people who are unvaccinated, 260 involve those who are partially vaccinated, 5,819 involve people who have received at least two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, 599 involve those with an unknown vaccination status.

Later today, Premier Doug Ford is expected to announce an easing of public health restrictions for restaurants in the province, sources told CTV News Toronto on Wednesday.

Sources say restaurants will be permitted to open at 50 per cent capacity starting on Jan. 31.

In an effort to curb transmission of the highly infectious Omicron variant, Ontario reverted back to a modified version of Step 2 of the Ford government’s reopening plan on Jan. 5, closing indoor dining rooms, gyms, movie theatres, and reducing private social gathering to a maximum of five indoors. The province has said these restrictions will remain in place until at least Jan. 26.

The numbers used in this story are found in the Ontario Ministry of Health's COVID-19 Daily Epidemiologic Summary. The number of cases for any city or region may differ slightly from what is reported by the province, because local units report figures at different times.


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