New modelling suggests Ontario needs a four-week stay-at-home order to stop the spread of COVID-19 variants that are deadlier and causing more serious outcomes in younger people.
It also said COVID-19 vaccines are not reaching the highest risk communities and therefore, “delaying its impact as an effective strategy.”
Ontario health officials released the new data Thursday morning, ahead of an announcement from Premier Ford about a potential four-week lockdown.
Dr. Adalsteinn Brown, who presented the modelling data, began by saying COVID-19 is killing people faster and younger and they are seeing entire families ending up in ICU.
“We cannot vaccinate quickly enough to break this third wave. This is the challenge of the new variants,” said Dr. Brown.
The province could see up to 6,000 cases by the end of April if there is no stay-at-home order.
If there is a four-week stay-at-home order, cases would peak at approximately 3,000 cases by mid-April before they begin to drop to just under 1,500 cases by the end of April.
The modelling has the stay-at-home order beginning on Monday.
The new data shows the risk of ICU admissions is two times higher and the risk of death is 1.5 times higher with the B.1.1.7 variant, which was first discovered in the U.K.
ICU admissions hit another record high during the pandemic on Wednesday, with 430 people now in Ontario’s ICUs.
The modelling data shows that, even with a stay-at-home order, the province could see 800 people in the ICUs by April 30.
Dr. Brown said at that point, with 800 people in the ICUs, “We are not able to provide all the care as well as we would want to people.”
“That is a place where clinicians need to make hard decisions that you would never want them to have to make where you will see loss of life,” added Dr. Brown.
It also noted that school disruptions have a “significant and highly inequitable impact on students, parents and society” and that further disruptions should be minimized.
This comes as Education Minister Stephen Lecce confirmed schools would stay open and be taking the delayed March break as planned on April 12.
The data also showed that those who are at the highest risk are not being vaccinated quickly enough.
Only eight per cent of those who live in the neighbourhoods with a high incidence of COVID-19 infections have been vaccinated, compared to 13 per cent of those who live in neighbourhoods with a low incidence.
Essential workers still make up the highest number of people who are being infected with COVID-19.
Communities who have the highest amount of essential workers have seen infections grow 51 per cent compared to the lowest third of communities where people engaged in essential work at just 19 per cent.
Percentage positive rates continue to grow in hotspots, with the highest in Peel Region at 8.6 per cent followed by Toronto at 7.1 per cent.