Omicron to push hospitalizations to “extremely high levels” in coming weeks, says Canada’s Public Health Agency

The number of hospital and ICU admissions is still highest among adults 80 years of age or older.

New modelling from the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) suggests the highly contagious Omicron variant will push hospital admissions to “extremely high levels” in the coming weeks.

PHAC said the current test positivity rate nationwide, which is at 28 per cent, suggests that new daily hospital admissions will far exceed previous historical peaks due to the number of cases.

New modelling released by Chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam on Friday indicates the current wave of COVID-19 driven by Omicron will peak this month at between 170,000 and 300,000 actual daily cases.

“The true number of daily cases, driven by extremely high transmissibility of the Omicron variant, could still vastly exceed anything we have experienced to date during this pandemic,” Tam told a media briefing.

Daily case counts across the country are about 37,500, but those numbers are considered to be very underestimated as many provinces are no longer providing lab tests for the majority of the population.

“The current very high positivity rate shows that COVID-19 is widespread and that case counts underestimate the true burden of infection in the broader population,” Tam said.

The trends show unvaccinated people are 19 times more likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19 compared to fully vaccinated people.

“We need to continue efforts to increase vaccine coverage to enhance protection for everyone we can,” Tam said.

Since December, the number of people with COVID-19 being treated in hospitals has more than quadrupled to an average of over 6,779 daily, while the number in critical care has doubled to an average of over 884 daily.

The number of hospital and ICU admissions is still highest among adults 80 years of age or older.

Tam said she is hopeful that cases and hospitalizations in Canada will soon peak, following the trajectory seen in the United States and the United Kingdom.

In fact, she said there are early indications that the rate of new infections may be stabilizing in Ontario and Quebec.

“It is quite possible that in the next few days we’ll see a peak in the cases,” noted Tam

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