Ontario is in the midst of two different COVID-19 outbreaks, health officials said Monday, as community spread appears to have peaked, but cases in long-term care homes are rising.
Earlier modellingpredicted a peak in May, but officials said restrictions have pushed the peak to now. The peak period lasts longer than one day, associate chief medical officer of health Dr. Barbara Yaffe said, and no one wants to see the curve bending upward again.
“Everyone needs to continue to stay home as much as possible, maintain physical distancing,” Yaffe said.
“These actions are making a big difference and you need to stay the course.”
Officials did not offer a definite answer on when life would be getting back to normal. Yaffe said whenever some measures are lifted, it will be done very gradually and time will be taken to measure the impact of each change.
New modelling released Monday predicts there will be fewer than 20,000 COVID-19 cases during the “first wave” of the pandemic — much less than the previous forecast of 80,000.
Matthew Anderson, president and CEO of Ontario Health, said that has meant Ontario’s intensive care unit capacity is far from its maximum. So the province has launched expert panels looking at how to restart some elements of the health-care system, such as elective procedures that have been paused.
But the spread in long-term care and other congregate settings seems to be growing.
There are outbreaks in 127 long-term care homes, and about half of the deaths in the province are residents from those facilities, said Adalsteinn Brown, dean of the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto.
Ontario implemented new measures last week for long-term care homes, including increased testing, redeploying hospital staff to long-term care homes, and preventing staff from working at more than one home — a practice that has contributed to the spread of the virus.
Those measures will take time to show results in tackling the long-term care spread, Yaffe said.
“We are confident that those measures will in fact have a great impact on outbreaks and preventing and controlling infection in this setting, but it doesn’t happen overnight,” she said.
Ontario reported 606 new cases of COVID-19 Monday, the largest single-day increase, and 31 new deaths.
Despite the large increase, the new total of 11,184 cases is just 5.7 per cent higher than the day before, continuing a relatively low growth trend.
The total includes 584 deaths and 5,515 resolved cases.
The number of people in hospital confirmed to have COVID-19 and those on ventilators went down slightly, while the number of people in intensive care remained stable.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published April, 20, 2020.
Allison Jones, The Canadian Press