Ontario Hospital Association declares 3rd COVID-19 wave, cites sharp rise in variant cases

The Ontario Hospital Association (OHA) is warning the province has entered the third wave of the coronavirus pandemic, citing a sharp increase in new variant-of-concern (VOC) cases and rising admissions to intensive care units.

According to a tweet posted on the association’s account Monday afternoon, the declaration was made based on new data released by Ontario’s COVID-19 Science Advisory Table.

“[With] new VOC cases steeply rising and ICU [numbers] trending up (nearing 350 today), strong adherence to public health measures is urgently needed to prevent overwhelming hospitals,” the OHA tweet said.

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According to the dataset, new VOCs were estimated to be 49 per cent of cases as of Monday while the original strains were estimated to make up 51 per cent of cases.

Read more: Ontario reports 1,268 new coronavirus cases, 9 more deaths

Officials said the new VOCs consist of the B.1.1.7 (first detected in the United Kingdom), B.1.351 (first detected in South Africa), and P.1 (first detected in Brazil) mutations. They said the B.1.1.7 VOC is currently the dominating strain.

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Scientists have said the new VOCs are more transmissible.

In data modelling presentations over the past month, officials repeatedly stressed containing variant spread in the short-term, combined with vaccinations, would be key to determining what restrictions will be in place come the summer.

The declaration came as the Ontario government reported 1,268 new coronavirus cases on Monday, bringing the provincial total to 319,374.

Read more: Coronavirus pandemic ‘likely’ to recede in summer, but health measures and limiting variants pivotal: Ontario data

Monday’s case count is lower than Sunday’s which saw 1,747 new infections (a portion of those cases were older ones recently inputted into the provincial data system). On Saturday, 1,468 new cases were recorded and 1,371 on Friday.

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Officials have listed 1,106 U.K. variant cases (B.1.1.7) which is up by 70 since yesterday, 44 South African variant cases (B.1.351) which is unchanged, and 34 Brazilian variant cases (P.1) which is unchanged, that have been detected so far in the province.

The death toll in the province has risen to 7,162 as nine more deaths were recorded.

More to come.

— With files from Gabby Rodrigues

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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