Ontario's second wave of COVID-19 will be fierce, deadly, and potentially last even longer than the first, according to new modelling data released by the province.
"We are starting to see a sharp upward curve," said Dr. Adalsteinn Brown, Dean of the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto, when presenting the data Wednesday morning.
"If things grow as we're anticipating, we will see a dramatic increase in the number of cases, with cases now doubling every 10 to 12 days and likely over 1,000 cases within the first half of October per day."
Brown warns of the potential for a "remarkably high surge" similar to what has been experienced in other jurisdicitons, unless public health measures and, more importantly, adherence to public health measures "starts tamping down."
Here are a few key highlights from today's modelling update, per the provincial government:
- Ontario is currently on an upward trajectory similar to what its peer jurisdictions, including Victoria, Australia and Michigan in the United States, have experienced.
- Cases are currently doubling approximately every 10 to 12 days.
- The growth in cases was initially in the 20 to 39 age group but now cases are climbing in all age groups.
- Forecasting suggests that Ontario could be around 1,000 cases per day in the first half of October.
- Intensive Care Unit (ICU) occupancy is currently steady, but it is predicted that admissions will likely rise with an increase in COVID-19 patients being hospitalized.
- Ontario may see between 200 and 300 patients with COVID-19 in ICU beds per day if cases continue to grow.
- In order to reduce the spread and the number of new cases, it remains critical that Ontarians continue to adhere to public health measures, including avoiding large gatherings, physical distancing and wearing a face covering.
Brown, who spoke alongside Dr. David Williams, Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health, and Matthew Anderson, President and CEO of Ontario Health, cautioned that even if measures changed right now, it would take time to see the impact on case growth.
"Anything we do now will start to have an effect days later," he said, noting that we "may have to take more stringent measures."
Williams, however, stressed that putting further Stage 2 restrictions back into place is not something the province will take lightly.
"We may have to do even more further, stringent actions take them closer back to a Stage 2," he said of hot spot regions like Toronto and Peel, where new cases of the coronavirus are rising rapidly.
"At the same time we're cognizant of closing down too many businesses without data to support that, as a draconian measure," he said.
More information about further restrictions (or a lack thereof) are expected during Premier Doug Ford's daily pandemic press briefing this afternoon.
Whether or not new orders are put into place, public health experts all seem to agree that something needs to change.
"We see a large amount of infection among younger people right now," said Brown. "This is likely starting to spill over into older age groups, which is where we see the most tragic and most challenging consequences for health and for the healthcare system."
Williams stressed the importance of continuing to follow public health recommendations, linking the uptick in cases to people growing complacent — something he and other leaders have done multiple times in recent days.
"People have to take these recommendations seriously... we can make them, but if you close down institutions, people just go around it," said Ontario's top doctor.
"Everybody has to do their part," he continued. "And not do workarounds and just say 'well, whatever' — we don't need that whatever attitude, we need to know what else can we do, not 'whatever.'"
by Lauren O'Neil via blogTO