COVID-19 modelling: Omicron dominating, hospitalizations rising

The Omicron variant has overshadowed all previous waves of COVID-19 in Canada and new modeling predicts a “significant increase” and a possible peak in new cases this month, before declining in February.

“While Canada could see a sharp peak and decline in cases in the coming weeks as disease activity exceeds previous peaks, even the downside to this curve could be significant,” Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam said on Friday.

Modeling data provided by Public Health Canada also shows that Canada is on track to see approximately 100,000 to 250,000 daily infections.

“The true number of daily cases, driven by the extremely high transmissibility of the Omicron variant, could greatly exceed anything we’ve seen so far during this pandemic,” Tam said. Hopefully cases will peak soon.

As a result of the record number of infections, daily hospital admissions are also expected to break records as well, far exceeding previous peaks.

However, federal officials caution that they still don’t have the full picture of Omicron’s hospitalization rate compared to previous strains of COVID-19.

“Given the lower risk of Omicron, hospitalizations did not increase at the same burst rate as cases,” Tam said. “However, this sudden acceleration and massive volume of cases associated with omicron overburden puts severe stress on hospitals over several weeks, and adds to long-term effects such as backlogs and a stressed workforce.”

She noted that many jurisdictions are trying to distinguish whether their patients are hospitalized with COVID-19, or if they are admitted for another reason but also have COVID-19 and . While this would be useful in evaluating Omicron’s effect, the result is generally the same: capabilities are expanded, she said.

“Other criteria we’re trying to differentiate from the county are the length of stay, and then clinical progress within hospitals as well. So far, what we’re hearing is that the length of stay appears to be shorter for the variable Omicron cases we’re seeing,” Tam said.

On average, in the past seven days, 6,779 patients were hospitalized with COVID-19, 883 were in the intensive care unit, and there were 82 deaths.

The highest rate of reported cases is among adults aged 20 to 39, with hospitalizations increasing at the highest rates among those aged over 80.

“We have been told, at least in our county, that if you have a wide range of respiratory symptoms, you should assume you have Omicron … where we have to be very careful is to identify patients who are asymptomatic and may be at greater risk of ending up with them.” It’s in the hospital, because we have to get to them quickly, follow them up, and if they need personal care, we have to take care of them. That’s where the health care system capacity question comes in,” Dr. Alan Grill, chief of family medicine at Markham Stoffel Hospital, told CT in the newsletter.

Data suggests Canada could have more than 3.5 million cumulative cases and up to 32,600 cumulative deaths by the last week of January, although these numbers may understate the real picture, due to reduced access to testing and reporting of COVID infections. -19.

Tam warns that Canadians need to do everything they can to limit their contacts, continue physical distancing, and wear appropriate, high-quality masks in public, in an effort to limit further rapid transmission of Omicron.

As of the last federal modeling update in December, the delta variant was the dominant strain, but in the following weeks, Omicron as the dominant variant in this country has surpassed previous expectations.

The highly contagious variant has resulted in Canada seeing more active cases than at any other time in the last two years of this pandemic, and has led to a new wave of restrictions out of concern about the vast hospital capacity.

Many areas have returned to virtual education for students and have closed or significantly reduced capacity in businesses such as gyms, theaters and restaurants as in previous waves of the pandemic.

Even so, with the current level of public health measures and societal restrictions, Tam said, the health care system is going through a difficult winter.

“With several weeks of very intense activity expected, we need to do everything we can now to limit the amount of Omicron increase in order to maintain the health system and vital functions of the community,” she said.

As federal officials sought to cheer Canadians frustrated, tired and angry about the COVID-19 crisis, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau warned that they will likely have to “shelter” this winter before seeing a “better spring.”

As Canada’s top public health official, Tam continues to appeal to Canadians for vaccination as their best line of defense against COVID-19.

It said Friday that more than 6.5 million Canadians remain unvaccinated, and that unvaccinated people are still “significantly” more likely to be hospitalized than fully vaccinated people.

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