Ontario ICU admissions hit another high amid COVID-19 pandemic, 23 more deaths

By News staff

Ontario reported 2,557 new cases of COVID-19 and another 23 virus-related deaths on Thursday, as admissions to intensive care units (ICU) climbed to another record high since the pandemic started last year.

A daily report by Critical Care Services Ontario, which tracks hospitalizations, stated 430 people are currently in the ICU with a COVID-19-related critical illness — up from 421 the day before.

“This is the new highest number of COVID patients in critical care in this pandemic,” Anthony Dale, the president of the Ontario Hospital Association, said in a tweet.

Ontario will enter a month-long lockdown on Saturday, in an effort to curb the rise in cases across the province, several sources told 680 NEWS. Exact details of the lockdown measures are expected to be confirmed by Premier Doug Ford later in the day.

Ahead of the announcement, the Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table released new modelling data that suggests the province needs a four-week stay-at-home order to stop the spread of COVID-19 variants, which 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.”

Currently, the province has 2,116 cases of a variant of concern and 1,953 of them are of the variant first detected in the United Kingdom.

RELATED: 4-week stay-at-home order, vaccines needed to contain spread of deadlier variants: modelling

In a letter to the Ford government earlier in the day, 153 ICU physicians said that the province is at a “critical point in the pandemic” and that new public health measures need to be implemented immediately.

The physicians noted that variants of concern have been quickly spreading across Ontario, which has impacted ICU capacity.

“About 4 in 10 patients who come to the ICU with COVID will die,” the letter states. “We are seeing younger patients on ventilators — many are parents of school-aged children.”

With the additional 23 deaths, 7,389 people have now died in the province as a result of COVID-19 since last March.

The 2,557 new cases were a rise from 2,336 the day before and the highest case count since since Jan. 22 when 2,662 were reported. It is also the eighth day in a row of more than 2,000 cases.

Toronto reported nearly 30 per cent of the new infections at 743, while Peel Region had 484, followed by 311 in York Region, and 107 in Durham Region. Outside of the GTA, Hamilton reported 119 and 131 were in Ottawa.

The province has reported 16,390 new cases over the past seven days, pushing the seven-day rolling average of cases to 2,341.

As a lockdown looms for the province, Education Minister Stephen Lecce confirmed Thursday that schools will stay open for in-class learning, and that spring break will “proceed as planned” on April 12.

“New protocols will be introduced to ensure students and staff return to class safely following the break,” he said.

Health officials reported 249 new school-related infections in Ontario. Currently, 1,240 schools have at least one case of COVID-19 and 63 schools have been temporarily closed.

In its latest daily update on Wednesday, the province said more than 62,000 tests were completed over the past 24 hours with a positivity rate of 4.8 per cent, which was unchanged from the day before.

An additional 84,060 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine were given out for a total of 2,276,313 doses administered overall. More than 317,000 Ontarians have been fully vaccinated so far.

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