Ontario reports 793 new COVID-19 cases, though ICU burden holds steady

Ontario reported 793 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, which is the most on a single day in more than two months — though the burden on the province’s intensive care units remained largely stable.

Today’s count is a 32 per cent increase over the same time last week, when Ontario logged 598 infections. 

The seven-day average of daily cases climbed to 625, its highest point since Sept. 24. 

As of yesterday, there were 128 people being treated for COVID-related illnesses in ICUs, down slightly from 130 last Thursday. 

The overall burden on ICUs has hovered around a mean average of about 132 for weeks, despite rising case counts in much of the province. In its latest modelling report, however, Ontario’s COVID-19 Science Advisory Table pointed out that ICU admissions are a lagging indicator, meaning as cases increase, eventually so too will the number of people requiring critical care.

That said, just how much ICU admissions could rise is somewhat difficult to predict, as nearly 86 per cent of eligible Ontarians have had two doses of COVID-19 vaccine — drastically reducing their chance of severe illness and admission to hospital or ICU.

The science table said that, most likely, there could be about 200 COVID patients in ICU by the end of the year, a figure that the head of the Ontario Hospital Association has said can be fairly well managed by the health-care system.

The developments in Ontario come as Health Canada officially approved Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine for children ages five to 11, heralding it as more than 90 per cent effective against COVID-19.

Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott said this week that the province is well positioned to begin administering pediatric doses as soon as a delivery schedule is finalized. All 34 public health units have developed plans specific to their own areas, Elliott said.

Meanwhile, here are some other key pandemic indicators and figures from the Ministry of Health’s daily provincial update:

Newly reported deaths: Four, pushing the official toll to 9,959.

Tests in the previous 24 hours: 30,515, with a 2.6 per cent positivity rate.

Active cases: 5,094, the most since Sept. 28.

Vaccinations: 13,897 doses were administered by public health units on Thursday. About 85.8 per cent of eligible Ontarians have had two shots.

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