New COVID-19 cases in Ontario will double without stay home order: expert panel

FILE PHOTO: A man walks with a face mask on the one-year anniversary of the World Health Organization declaring coronavirus disease (COVID-19) a pandemic in Toronto, Ontario, Canada March 11, 2021. REUTERS/Carlos Osorio

TORONTO (Reuters) – New cases of COVID-19 in the Canadian province of Ontario could double unless the government imposes a stay at home order, according to new modeling released on Thursday by an expert panel advising the provincial government.

The projection showed cases in the latest surge jumping to 6,000 per day by late April, but suggested a two- or four-week stay at home order imposed on April 5 could reverse the rise in new infections.

The new model came as more than 150 critical care doctors published a letter urging the province to act to halt a wave of infections in Canada’s most populous province.

“We are seeing younger patients on ventilators – many are parents of school-aged children,” the letter said. “We are seeing entire families end up in our ICUs. We are caring for people who have contracted COVID-19 at work, or who have followed all the rules and only gone out for groceries.”

As new, more dangerous variants of the coronavirus spread across the province, the number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care units has reached 464, higher than at the peak of the last wave, said Ontario Chief Medical Officer David Williams at a media briefing.

Data confirms that current seriously ill patients are younger with 46% of ICU admissions between March 15 and March 21 under age 60, up from 30% during a December surge, according to the expert panel.

And vaccination rates are lower in neighbourhoods hit hardest by COVID-19. In areas with the highest incidence of infection, about 8% of residents have received the vaccine, compared with 13% in areas with the lowest incidence.

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