COVID-19

COVID-19 in Canada | Infections would be on a plateau, but not hospitalizations.

The number of cases of contamination in Canada seems to have peaked and even begun to decline, but it will take “a few more weeks” before we see the same phenomenon on the side of hospitalizations.

Pierre Saint Arnaud
the canadian press

“Early indications are that infections may have peaked across the country,” Dr. Howard Njoo said during a virtual news conference on Friday alongside his colleague, Canada’s chief health officer, Theresa Tam.

“However, the daily number of hospitalizations and people in intensive care continues to rise. Many hospitals in Canada are under great pressure,” he said.

Providing an update on the national situation, Drs. Tam and Njoo noted that there are still 6.5 million Canadians who have yet to receive a first or second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

“C’est toujours une opportunité por le virus de continuar à circular”, deplored Howard Njoo, suggesting that “por motiver (les non-vaccinés) il faut peut-être donner certains privilèges aux personnes vaccinées pour entrer dans les espaces publics, the restaurants. »

“It’s a way,” he said, an idea that has already been implemented in Quebec with the vaccination passport.

Hospitalizations above, infections below

The figures released Friday are dizzying: Last week, 10,000 people were treated every day in Canadian hospitals, a peak never reached during previous waves, and 1,100 were in intensive care. In addition, the average daily mortality rate was 131 people.

However, the very high mortality is not attributable to the virulence of the Omicron variant, but to the fact that the transmissibility of this variant led to an explosion in the number of cases, Theresa Tam argued. “It is because of the large volume of cases. At the beginning of the Omicron wave, it was very concentrated among young adults. It was later extended to other age groups. Therefore, the vast majority of severe cases are still found in older people, people over 60 years of age. There are also cases of severe damage in children, but they are still very rare,” he said.

The number of hospitalizations and intensive care admissions “continues to skyrocket,” Dr. Njoo said, saying he expected a plateau and gradual decline only in late February.

By contrast, the number of new daily infections has dropped by 28%, but Drs Tam and Njoo believe the actual number of cases is underestimated due to testing capacity being outpaced by the number of cases.

Airports: maintenance of systematic controls

Federal public health does not intend to recommend a return to random screening at airports at this time.

“We see that positivity rates have been going up for several weeks. […] This is very important for surveillance, because it is not just about diagnosing individual travelers, but also possibly detecting a new variant,” explained Howard Njoo.

He did not want to comment on the disparities in health regulations and their flexibility from one province to another, arguing that the extension of the Canadian territory implied different situations for which it was necessary to trust the public health authorities of each province.

plan for the future

Hoping to enter a new phase at the end of February, Theresa Tam argued that now was the time to plan.

“We need to focus on our goals of reducing serious illness, mortality and reducing social disruption. This balance is yet to be found. There is no doubt that nobody wants to see all these restrictive measures anymore and Omicron may or may not have brought us closer to this new reality,” he said.

“Perhaps later it will be necessary to examine what the balance is so that the capacity of the health system is prepared for the next pandemic,” said Dr. Njoo, stressing on several occasions that the pressure was unsustainable in several hospitals.

Treat COVID like the flu?

Both doctors said they believe COVID will continue to exist long-term after the current wave, but could eventually turn into a respiratory infection like others.

“The general view at the moment is that the Omicron virus will be with us for a long time and we need to take a longer-term approach to vaccination strategies,” said Dr. Tam.

Considering a fourth dose if necessary is one of the scenarios, he said, but it’s also not impossible that one day annual vaccination against the coronavirus will be considered in the same way as against the flu. “Everyone can understand that, for the flu, for example, it has become an annual vaccine for decades. Repeated doses throughout life are not really a concern,” he argued.

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