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COVID-19 cases expected to continue to rise in Ontario after record jump: Health Ministry

COVID-19 cases are expected to continue to rise in Ontario after the province reported a record number of new infections Friday, a spokesperson for the province’s health minister says.

Alexandra Hilkene, spokesperson for Christine Elliott, released a statement Friday after Ontario reported a record number of new cases for the second straight day.

There were 9,571 cases reported, surpassing the previous record set on Thursday of 5,790 new infections.

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“Due to the highly-transmissible nature of the Omicron variant, it was expected that case numbers would increase in the winter months,” Hilkene said.

“We expect they will continue to increase over the coming days and weeks, as other jurisdictions are seeing similar case rate increases per capita.”

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Hilkene noted that the effectiveness of the vaccines has meant that despite the spike in cases, there hasn’t been a “corresponding increase” in hospitalizations and intensive care admissions. But she said an increase in ICU admissions is expected in the coming weeks as Omicron spreads, “particularly among the unvaccinated.”

Provincial figures showed there are 508 people hospitalized with COVID-19 (up by 68), 164 of whom are in intensive care due to COVID-19 (down by five); 102 people in ICUs are on a ventilator (down by four).

Prior to the most recent spike, the largest increase in cases was on April 16, when there were 4,812 reported.

At that time, there were 1,955 people in hospital with COVID-19 and 701 in intensive care due to the virus.

“Investments in Ontario’s hospital capacity have resulted in 600 ICU beds being immediately available with nearly 500 more ICU beds available for surge capacity if required,” Hilkene added.

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“Ontario is ready for an increase in hospital and ICU admissions as we accelerate the booster rollout.”

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Hilkene said vaccines remain the best protection against COVID and the province is continuing to ramp up its capacity to deliver more shots.

On Thursday, 229,743 doses were administered.

Hilkene urged Ontarians to celebrate the holidays safely and follow public health measures. She said the coming weeks will require “ongoing vigilance.”

“As the province continues to administer booster doses to all Ontarians 18 and older over the coming days and weeks, the province has put in place additional public health and workplace safety measures, such as capacity and social gathering limits, that will help to curb transmission and continue to safeguard Ontario’s hospital and ICU capacity,” she said.

“The chief medical officer of health will continue to review the data and evidence and our government will act as necessary to protect our health-care system and the health and safety of Ontarians.”

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