COVID-19 case rates on the decline following summer wave: Public Health Ontario

COVID-19 case rates are now declining in all seven regions of the province following a rare summer wave of the pandemic, the latest report from Public Health Ontario suggests.

The health agency’s weekly COVID-19 surveillance report, released on Thursday afternoon, reveals that there were 10,982 new cases of the disease caused by the novel coronavirus detected through PCR testing over the last seven days, compared to 12,092 the previous week.

Public Health Ontario says that hospital admissions also decreased from 463 last week to 306 this week.

The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19, however, remains elevated as reports continue to surface about a healthcare system that is struggling to care for patients amid a high degree of staff burnout.

According to the ministry of health, there are currently 1,474 people in hospitals testing positive for COVID-19.

That is down slightly from this time last week when 1,492 COVID patients were hospitalized but remains near the seventh wave peak reached on July 26 (1,523).

Of the nearly 1,500 people in hospital with COVID-19, a total of 139 are being treated in intensive care.

That is virtually unchanged from this time last week.

“The number of severe outcomes reported in future weeks may increase, as these outcomes are lagging indicators,” Public Health Ontario warned in its report.

The latest data comes nearly a month after Ontario’s Science Advisory Table first declared that a seventh wave of the pandemic driven by the more infectious BA.5 subvariant was underway.

In recent weeks most public health indicators, along with wastewater surveillance, have started to suggest that wave is either at its plateau or beginning to recede however.

In its report, Public Health Ontario said that case rates are down week-over-week in 22 of Ontario’s 34 public health units.

It also said that positivity rates have plateaued at between 14 and 15 per cent over the last three weeks while outbreaks identified in high-risk settings have begun to decrease.

“The total number of outbreaks in high-risk settings was 193 this week, down from 216 last week,” the report states. “Fewer outbreaks were reported this week compared to last week in hospitals (35% decrease), long-term care homes (16% decrease), and group homes/supportive housing (7% decrease).”

The Ministry of Health added another 47 net new deaths to its COVID-19 tally this week, compared to 85 last week.

The death tally over the entire pandemic now stands at 13,684.