Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Thursday October 1, 2020
Ontario’s 2nd wave of COVID-19 forecast to peak in October
Fresh projections suggest that Ontario’s second wave of COVID-19 will peak in mid- to late October and will likely send enough patients to intensive care that hospitals will need to scale back non-emergency surgeries.
The forecasts come from the COVID-19 Modelling Collaborative, a joint effort of scientists and physicians from the University of Toronto, University Health Network and Sunnybrook Hospital.
Based on how quickly Ontario’s infection rate has been rising in recent weeks, the model projects the province is on track to exceed 1,000 new cases per day by the middle of October, unless stricter public health measures slow the accelerating spread.
The average number of new cases reported daily in Ontario is currently running four times higher than what it was at the end of August. Premier Doug Ford’s government has since shrunk limits on the size of private gatherings, reduced opening hours for bars and ordered strip clubs to close.
On Monday, Ontario reported an additional 700 cases of COVID-19, the most on a single day since the outbreak began in late January. The figure surpasses the previous high of 640 from April 24.
On Sunday, Ontario’s Ministry of Health reported 112 patients in hospital with a confirmed case of COVID-19, nearly triple the number of two weeks ago. The research team says the impact of the second wave on Ontario’s hospitals will depend on the demographics of who gets infected in the coming weeks.
The team of researchers has run four scenarios for how Ontario’s second wave could play out from here.
The best-case scenario would mimic Ontario’s first wave in March and April, when case numbers increased rapidly but were then reined in by a lockdown.
Two moderate scenarios would resemble how a second wave hit jurisdictions comparable to Ontario: the Australian state of Victoria (home to Melbourne, a city of five million), and the U.S. state of Michigan.
None of those three scenarios shows COVID-19 patients filling Ontario’s hospital wards or ICUs beyond their capacity. That happens only in the modellers’ worst-case scenario: a second wave as severe as the first wave that hit Italy when the pandemic began.
However, in all but the best-case scenario, the researchers foresee ICU demand that exceeds the capacity required for patients undergoing scheduled surgeries. (CBC)