The latest COVID-19 wave driven by the Omicron variant may have reached its peak, with the average daily number of cases falling by 28 percent compared to the previous week, says Canada’s top public health official. But hospitalizations and intensive care units, which lag behind infections, are still rising.
“ICU numbers are still rising sharply,” said Chief Public Health Officer of Canada Dr. Theresa Tam Friday.
“The time frame for January, the peak may occur, but the admissions and intensive care unit may continue to rise for some time. So it is in February and I really hope that by the end of next month we will be in a better position.”
Hospitals see very few cases of Delta or other variants, but the high volume of Omicron cases has resulted in an unprecedented number of new daily hospital admissions that have exceeded the historical maximums over the past week.
On average, more than 10,000 people are treated with COVID-19 daily in hospitals, while more than 1,100 people are in the intensive care unit.
“We still have some tough weeks ahead and potential for more bumps along the way,” Tam said.
“Omicron can cause serious consequences. We can not downplay this virus. Many people, especially those at higher risk, become very seriously ill, and many are actually dead, and we have to do what we can to prevent them. “
The sheer number of cases alone has also resulted in more reports of serious cases among children, but they are still “very rare in terms of rates,” Tam said, adding that the vast majority of serious diseases still occur among those over 60 years of age. .
While there was a degree of underestimation due to changes in test policies, the seven-day average for daily new cases was close to 27,000 per day. January 19, she said.
Tam reiterated the strong protective effects of the vaccine and urged the public to get their booster shots and vaccinate eligible children. More than 6.5 million eligible Canadians have not yet received their first or second dose, and coverage for eligible children is currently at 51 percent with at least one dose, she added.
For administrative purposes, including international travel, entering certain public spaces or performing certain tasks, Tam explained that the definition of “fully vaccinated” still consists of the primary series or the first two doses of a two-dose vaccine and a dose of Janssen vaccine.
“But we all know that it’s very important to get the booster dose, especially in Omicron’s time, so we started switching terminology now to the concept of being ‘up-to-date'” at all eligible doses, “she said.
“Now is not the time [to change the definition of fully vaccinated] because not everyone has had the chance to get the extra dose or be updated – not in Canada and certainly not globally. ”
With expectations that the virus will be here for a long time to come, Tam also addressed questions about the possibility of a fourth vaccine dose. She acknowledged that there are a number of unknowns, but the priority right now is to prevent serious outcomes, even when health authorities look at a long-term approach to tackling the virus.
“Influenza, for example, is now an annual vaccine people have, which I have had for decades every year,” she said.
“There are very good examples of where vaccines can be given over and over again throughout our lives.”