Ontario’s top doctor predicts increased hospital and ICU admissions with the rapid spread of Omicron

Dr. Kieran Moore says the province's testing and contact tracing system is under more pressure

As the Omicron variant continues to spread, the province’s top doctor on Tuesday warned the number of people who require hospitalization or care in an intensive care unit is likely to grow in the coming weeks.

Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore said the province is on track to record more new daily COVID-19 cases than it ever has throughout the pandemic.

On Tuesday, the province reported 412 people in hospital with COVID-19, an uptick from the previous day, while ICU numbers continued to be stable with 165 patients, an increase of one from Monday.

“This variant moves quickly, and we need to do the same,” Moore said. “There is no question that in the coming days and weeks, we will require ongoing vigilance. We must stay cautious, disciplined and never underestimate this virus.”

With more people going for testing and a growing number of positive tests, Moore said the province’s testing and contact tracing system is under more pressure. He said the focus of public health units and the province will be to focus their contact tracing on high-risk settings such as shelters, retirement homes, long-term care facilities and hospitals.

Moore’s advice to people who test positive using a rapid antigen test is to reach out to their close contacts on their own and self-isolate.

There has been a huge demand from the public for PCR testing, and in order to ensure there is enough, Moore would not rule out putting some limitations in place.

Moore said that the province has likely already reached a point where it needs to save its limited supplies of rapid antigen tests to use on health-care professionals and other essential workers, who might be a close contact of a positive case who would otherwise be required to self-isolate for an extended period.

He also urged people to keep their holiday gatherings small to reduce the opportunities for the virus to spread over the Christmas and New Year’s break.

The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit reported 126 new cases of COVID-19 and two more deaths on Tuesday, both of them Simcoe County residents. A woman in her 80s and a man between 45 and 64 years of age.

Simcoe Muskoka set a single-day vaccination record on Monday, with more than 11,000 shots administered.

Across Ontario, 3,453 cases were reported by the province on Tuesday, a slight dip from the previous day.