Cautious Approach Key to Protecting Our Progress as Province Learns More About the Omicron Variant
The Ontario government, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, is extending its pause on the lifting of capacity limits in remaining higher-risk settings where proof of vaccination is required while the province continues to monitor trends in public health and health care indicators and learns more about the Omicron variant. These settings include:
While an increase in cases was always anticipated as more people socialize indoors due to colder weather, Ontario continues to have one of the lowest case rates in the country, well below the national average. Despite this, Ontario’s cautious approach and high vaccination rates have meant hospital and intensive care unit capacity continues to remain stable. As of December 6, 2021, there were 165 COVID-19 related critical illness patients (CRCI) in intensive-care units, representing only 7 per cent of overall ICU capacity in the province.
To ensure Ontario’s hospitals were prepared to respond to any scenario, Ontario invested an additional $1.8 billion, bringing total new investments in hospitals to $5.1 billion since the start of the pandemic. This additional funding includes $760 million to create over 3,100 beds and $300 million to reduce surgical and diagnostic imaging backlogs. The province is also investing $342 million to add over 5,000 new and upskilled registered nurses and registered practical nurses as well as 8,000 personal support workers.
Because of this increased capacity, Ontario is able to safely admit approximately 300 patients with COVID-related critical illness into ICUs without putting at risk urgent surgeries. This would allow the province’s hospital system to effectively manage the intake of ICU patients projected as the most likely scenario by expert modellers in the coming months. Ontario can quickly surge up capacity further if necessary.
The months ahead will require continued vigilance. That’s why Ontario has continued to take a cautious approach to public health and workplace safety measures, such as continuing to require masking in indoor public settings throughout the pandemic.
The Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table rightly points out that the current public health measures are effective against COVID-19 and variants, including Omicron, and that the COVID-19 vaccine remains highly effective against severe illness or hospitalization against the virus. In addition, every eligible Ontarian is strongly recommended to get vaccinated or receive their booster if they are eligible as soon as possible. If you have a child aged five to 11, book an appointment to get your child vaccinated today.
The government and the Chief Medical Officer of Health will continue to monitor trends in key public health and health care indicators and emerging data on the Omicron variant and will continue to take swift action to ensure the health and safety of Ontarians.