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COVID-19 modeling: Omicron dominant, hospitalizations on the rise

The Omicron variant has “eclipsed” all previous COVID-19 waves in Canada, and new modeling predicts a “big push” and a potential spike in new cases this month, before dropping in February.

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

Modeling data provided by the Public Health Agency of Canada also shows that Canada is on track to register between 100,000 and 250,000 daily infections.

“The actual number of daily cases, driven by the extremely high transmissibility of the Omicron variant, could still far exceed anything we’ve seen to date during this pandemic,” Tam said. “We hope the cases will peak soon. “

Due to the record number of infections, new daily hospital admissions are also expected to break records, far exceeding past peaks.

However, federal officials warn they still don’t have a full picture of Omicron’s hospitalization rate compared to past strains of COVID-19.

“Given Omicron’s lower severity profile, hospitalizations have not increased at the explosive rate of cases,” Tam said. “Nonetheless, this sudden acceleration and the sheer volume of cases associated with an Omicron surge puts intense pressure on hospitals for several weeks and is added to longer-term impacts such as prolonged arrears and labor pressure. overloaded work. “

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

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

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

Tam warns that Canadians must do everything possible to limit contact, maintain physical distancing, wear well-fitting, high-quality masks in public, in an effort to curb the even faster transmission of Omicron.

Since the last federal modeling update in December, the Delta variant was the dominant strain, but in the weeks since, Omicron has overtaken as the predominant variant in this country and topped past projections.

The highly transmissible variant has caused Canada to see more active cases than at any time during the past two years of this pandemic, and has led to a new wave of restrictions over fears of overwhelming hospital capacity .

Many regions have reverted to virtual schooling for students and have closed or significantly reduced the capacity of businesses like gymnasiums, theaters and restaurants, as was the case in previous waves of the pandemic.

Despite the current level of public health measures and societal restrictions, the healthcare system is poised for a difficult winter, Tam said.

“With several weeks of very intense activity expected, we must do our best now to limit the size of the Omicron surge in order to maintain the health system and critical functions of the company,” she said. .

As federal officials have sought to encourage the Canadian public frustrated, tired and angered by the COVID-19 crisis, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has warned that they will likely have to “fall back” this winter before seeing “a best spring ”.

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

She said Friday that more than 6.5 million Canadians are still unvaccinated and that unvaccinated people are still “considerably” more likely to be hospitalized than fully vaccinated people.