As Ontario braces for the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic, new COVID-19 modelling released by the Ontario government has forecast that the province will likely see more than 1,000 new COVID cases per day by the first half of October.
Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams presented the provincial COVID-19 modelling update at a news conference on Wednesday morning. Williams was joined by Dean of the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto Adalsteinn (Steini) Brown and Matthew Anderson, president and CEO of Ontario Health.
The health officials noted that cases across the province have been steadily rising throughout the month of September, and that Ontario is on an upwards trajectory similar to what other jurisdictions have experienced in Victoria, Australia and Michigan, USA.
They also said cases are currently doubling approximately every 10 to 12 days, and the growth in cases was initially in the 20 to 39 age group but now cases are “climbing in all age groups.”
According to the provincial government, when there are less than 150 people in an intensive care unit with COVID-19 in Ontario hospitals, the province can "maintain non-COVID capacity and all scheduled surgeries." However, once that number has risen above 150, it becomes harder to support non-COVID-19 needs, the government said. Once it exceeds 350 people, it becomes "impossible."
In the latest modelling, the government provided three scenarios, based on other COVID-19 experiences around the world, to forecast how many patients will be admitted to intensive care during the second wave.
Victoria, Australia was used as the high scenario, while Michigan was used as the medium scenario. The low scenario was based on Ontario's first wave, but with a younger population.
While the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) occupancy is currently steady in Ontario, it is predicted that admissions will likely rise with an increase in COVID-19 patients being hospitalized. What's more, Ontario may see between 200 and 300 patients with COVID-19 in ICU beds per day if cases continue to grow.
"COVID-19 continues to be a serious threat in our communities, and today's modelling shows the importance of adhering to public health measures," said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health.
"Over the summer we saw how our collective efforts helped slow the transmission of COVID-19, we must not let our guard down now as we head into the cold and flu season. We all need to do our part and continue to follow all public health measures in place to contain and stop the spread of the virus."
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.
"With the recent rise in cases, we limited private social gatherings and tightened public health measures for businesses and organizations to reduce the transmission in our communities," said Dr. David Williams, Chief Medical Officer of Health. "We wanted to release this modelling to be open about the challenges our province faces, and the important work we all need to do to flatten the curve."
The modelling comes as the province logged 625 new infections Wednesday morning, up from the 554 cases added on Tuesday, with 288 of those being in Toronto.
What's more, Ontario health officials said they're continuing to record numbers of new COVID-19 infections at levels unseen since April.
Officials said Wednesday that new COVID-19 cases, which were mostly attributed to people under 40, have now led to an increase in every age group.