As cases increase in Ontario, three regions reinstated a modified version of Stage 2 on Friday to tackle an outbreak of new COVID-19 infections that had been developing for several weeks.
The last time Ontarians entered Stage 2, cases were down, said Ashleigh Tuite, epidemiologist at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health. “What we are seeing right now is the opposite.”
Ontario reported two days of COVID-19 cases on Tuesday morning, with 807 new cases and three deaths for Monday. On Tuesday, the province’s public health units reported 921 new confirmed or probable cases of COVID-19 and nine deaths.
Increase in hospitalizations
Hospitalizations are on the rise, Tuite said. “It’s a little different from what we were even a month ago when we saw cases increasing, but we are not seeing an increase in hospitalizations.
As new cases of the virus leave younger populations and join older populations, hospitalizations and deaths will increase, Tuite said. Hospitalizations delay cases by a week or two, which means the number increases long after new infections start to rise. “The bottom line is that when people are hospitalized, they stay in the hospital for a period of time,” she explained.
Dr Ross Upshur, professor of family and community medicine at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, said it was “remarkable” in the spring to see how quickly hospitals have made capacity available to deal with the pandemic. .
“It’s not just about moving people out of hospitals, it’s about getting people out of hospitals and making sure they get the kinds of protection and care they need,” he said. he declares.
In June, when Toronto moved to Stage 2 of reopening, there were 278 people in the hospital and 73 in the ICU. Tuesday, 230 people are hospitalized, including 60 in intensive care. Notably, the number of cases continued to decline after GTA entered phase 2 in June, only progressing well after regions moved to phase 3.
“We’re in a very different situation… in much of the province, hospitals are already at full capacity,” Tuite said.
Spread to long-term care
Residents of long-term care facilities are particularly vulnerable to the virus, Upshur said. But the spread doesn’t need to be inevitable.
“If it was inevitable then all nursing homes would have epidemics and all nursing homes would have high mortality, but it is not. So we have to learn from those who did it well, ”he said during the first peak. “Take these lessons and make sure they are applied and that we have the human resources in place to handle this.”
The spread in long-term care is “a bit of a harbinger of community transmission,” Tuite said. Seeing outbreaks in nursing homes means “we have a lot of transmission in our communities,” Tuite said.
A worrying current trend is the increase in cases in nursing homes where residents have been infected as well as staff, Tuite said.
As active cases among residents peaked with the virus in the spring, then there was a sharp drop and a plateau in those falling ill. Over the past week, cases have started to rise again.
“We really need to put so much protection around people who live in collective environments like retirement homes and long-term care facilities,” Upshur said. “We must give them maximum protection as a priority.”
An increasing trend in cases around the world
Ontario is not alone in entering a second wave of the virus. This is a trend that is evident in regions around the world.
“What we are seeing in Ontario and Canada is no different from what is happening in other health care systems around the world,” Upshur said. While the community’s demands remain the same to combat the spread – hand washing, physical distancing and limited contact – we have also learned more about COVID-19, he said.
“We now know that we have effective drugs for the critically ill, and our case management when they are hospitalized has changed,” Upshur explained.
“However, we still need to be very vigilant in the face of the growing number of cases, and we need to double our protection of populations” who are prone to the worst experiences of the virus.