Omicron to peak in Canada next few weeks, Says Tam


#COVID19 #Epidemiology

The Omicron variant has “eclipsed” all previous COVID-19 waves in Canada and new modeling forecasts a “large surge” and potential peak in new cases this month, before declining in February.

Dr. Theresa Tam says hospitalizations are on the rise and are expected to continue, given the country’s record infection rates.

She says since Ottawa’s last modeling update just over a month ago, virus-related hospitalizations have more than quadrupled to nearly 7,000 a day with critical care admissions doubling to nearly 900 a day.

Tam says the federal government’s long-range projections have the country hitting the fifth wave’s peak in February with about 170,000 daily cases in the best case scenario and 300,000 in the worst case.

“The true number of daily cases, driven by extremely high transmissibility of the Omicron variant, could still vastly exceed anything we have experienced to date during this pandemic,” Tam said. “We are hopeful that cases will soon peak.”

“Given the lower severity profile of Omicron, hospitalizations haven’t increased at the same explosive rate as cases,” Tam said. “Nevertheless, that sudden acceleration and enormous volume of cases associated with an Omicron surge puts an intense strain on hospitals over several weeks, and adds to longer-lasting impacts such as extended backlogs and a strained workforce.”

She noted that many jurisdictions are trying to discern whether their patients are hospitalized because of COVID-19, or if they were admitted for another reason but also have COVID-19 and. While this will be helpful in assessing the impact of Omicron, overall the outcome is the same: capacity is being stretched, she said.

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