New COVID-19 modelling suggests Ont. hospitalizations are likely to surpass 3,000 soon

Community transmission of COVID-19 may have peaked but new modelling from Ontario’s science table is warning hospital occupancy is “likely to continue to rise for some time” and could approach the levels experienced during the height of the fifth wave of the pandemic this past winter.

The group of scientists and epidemiologists advising the Ford government on its pandemic response have released new projections, which suggest the number of Ontarians hospitalized with COVID-19 could surpass 3,000 by May in the most likely scenario.

The scientists say that in a more pessimistic scenario it is possible more than 4,000 people will be hospitalized with COVID-19 by May, equalling the peak reached in mid-January.

The table is also projecting the number of COVID patients taking up ICU beds will rise but it says the ultimate peak will be lower than during the Omicron-fueled fifth wave of the pandemic in most scenarios.

The most likely scenario would see about 500 patients in intensive care with COVID, down from a high of 626 in late January.

“We really have a lot of uncertainty here and we’re not completely sure how this will play out,” Dr. Peter Jüni, the scientific director of the table, told CP24 on Thursday afternoon. “We are relatively confident that the hospital and ICU occupancy should be likely be lower this time than last time and that helps. But there’s a caveat. The caveat is you have again a lot of healthcare workers knocked out (by infection), about the same level as last time during the Omicron wave and that will increase the strain for the healthcare system.”

The latest projections paint a much more alarming picture than modelling released by the table last month, which estimated there would be about 800 COVID patients in hospital by May.

That was before Ontario lifted the mask mandate in most settings, along with a number of other public health restrictions.

It also pre-dated the more infectious BA.2 subvariant becoming dominant in Ontario, which the science table now estimates occurred sometime around March 10.

More to come…

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