Earlier this week Premier Doug Ford ominously told Ontarians that the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic will be worse than the first. On Wednesday, the province revealed new modelling numbers that confirmed that grim prognosis.
Case counts at current growth rates are projected to rise to 1,000 cases a day by the first half of October.
So far, the highest daily case count was 700 new cases on Monday.
Health officials say cases are currently doubling every 10 to 12 days and Intensive Care Unit occupancy, which is currently steady, could spike in the coming weeks.
“The trends are deeply concerning,” Ford said Wednesday after the modelling was introduced.
“We are starting to see a rise in case numbers among all age groups .. and if these numbers keep rising we will see 200 to 300 people in ICU beds per day.”
Dr. Adalsteinn Brown, one of those who put together the figures, said a rising number of cases in those aged 20 to 39 are contributing to spread of the virus across all age groups.
While young people with COVID-19 have lower mortality rates, they can transmit the virus to older people who are more at risk, he said.
“A large amount of infection among young people right now is likely starting to spill over, which is where we see the most tragic and most challenging consequences,” said Brown, who is the dean of the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto.
The modelling also warns about the risks of increasing occupancy in hospital intensive care units.
As of Wednesday, 35 people were being treated for COVID-19 in ICUs in different parts of Ontario.
Ford announced that the province would invest $2.8 billion in a fall preparedness plan that will support front line health care workers and vulnerable populations.
The plan includes more testing, more case and contact management, and what Ford called the largest flu immunization campaign in the province’s history.
Wednesday’s modelling doesn’t take into account new measures introduced to limit hours of operation at bars and restaurants, and the closure of strip clubs.
Ontario’s chief medical officer of health said in order to lessen the effect of the second wave, residents must again strictly follow public health rules.
Dr. David Williams also said further restrictions may be issued in the coming weeks if needed.
“We need to pull up our socks,” he said.
The Public Health Agency of Canada released its own latest modelling last week, predicting up to 9,300 deaths across the country by early October if the current trajectory of the epidemic continues.
With files from The Canadian Press