The key member of the provincial COVID-19 Science Advisory Table and the Ontario Hospital Association (OHA) are warning the province has entered the third wave of the coronavirus pandemic, citing a sharp increase in new variant-of-concern (VOC) cases and rising admissions to intensive care units.
According to a tweet posted on the association’s account on Monday afternoon, the statement was made based on new data released by Ontario’s COVID-19 Scientific Advisory Panel.
“[With] new VOC cases steeply rising and ICU [numbers] trending up (nearing 350 today), strong adherence to public health measures is urgently needed to prevent overwhelming hospitals,” the OHA tweet said.
According to the dataset, new VOCs were estimated to be 49 percent of cases as of Monday while the original strains were estimated to make up 51 percent of cases.
Officials said the new VOCs consist of the B.1.1.7 (first detected in the United Kingdom), B.1.351 (first detected in South Africa), and P.1 (first detected in Brazil) mutations. They said the B.1.1.7 VOC is currently the dominating strain.
During presentations on data models over the past month, officials repeatedly emphasized containing variant spread in the short-term, combined with vaccinations, would be key to determining what restrictions will be in place come the summer.
When asked if Ontario is experiencing a third wave in the coronavirus pandemic, the province’s chief medical officer of health said doctors are trying to determine the extent of the rise.
Dr. David Williams said the statistic of 49 percent is a one-day snapshot, but he noted the rolling seven-day average of variant cases is increasing.
Toronto’s medical officer of health, Dr. Eileen de Villa, said it’s too early to confirm the third wave.
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