Ontario health care system struggling under the weight of COVID-19 variants

More young people filling up hospital beds

The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 is 21 per cent higher than it was when Ontario entered a lockdown in December, and more young people are filling up those hospital beds.

A new report from top scientists advising Premier Doug Ford warns it could be weeks “until the full burden to the health care system becomes apparent.”

According to the report, 67 per cent of all COVID-19 cases in the province are variants of concern, and they are starting to have a substantial impact on the health care system, as variants are circulating widely and are more deadly.

The report states there is also a 63 per cent increased risk of hospitalization, a 103 per cent increased risk of intensive care unit admission and a 56 per cent increased risk of death from the variants of concern.

Between Dec. 14 and Dec. 20, only 30 per cent of new ICU admissions involved people aged 59 or younger. In the last week, people aged 59 or younger accounted for 46 per cent of all 157 new ICU admissions.

“This is not a benign issue with these variants for people under 50 who felt that maybe with the initial COVID It wasn’t a big deal. This for you now is a big deal,” Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams said during a briefing on Monday afternoon, prior to the release of the report to the public.

The report from the scientific advisory table does not make any specific recommendations.

The rise in cases comes as the Ford government is loosening some public health restrictions.