Omicron’s potential peak leaves experts cautiously optimistic

Canada’s top doctor says the latest wave of COVID-19 driven by the Omicron variant may have peaked.

But while the pattern looks encouraging, experts say the news should be interpreted with cautious optimism.

Chief Medical Officer Dr Theresa Tam told reporters on Friday that there are “early signs that infections may have peaked at the national level” based on daily cases, test results. positives, reproduction numbers and wastewater data.

Dr Ronald St John, former director general of the Public Health Agency of Canada’s Centers for Emergency Preparedness and Response, told CTV News Channel on Saturday.

Due to a lack of PCR testing capacity, many people who develop COVID-19, especially if they are not in the high-risk group and have mild or no symptoms, have been unable to have PCR testing.

“We can’t count people without symptoms, so we have to look at other data sets (like) wastewater concentrations, things like that, to try to understand where we are.” St. John said.

Dr Jason Kindrachuk, an infectious disease expert at the University of Manitoba, said the news suggests “some optimism that things will slowly return to normal, like they were before Omicron.”

However, Tam said that hospitalizations and ICU admissions are still on the rise across Canada and that the health system is still under “intense strain.” Kindrachuk said it’s not clear how quickly we can start being hospitalized and ICU admissions are starting to drop.

“I think we’ve learned over and over and over again since the pandemic where you know, the number of cases goes up and then the number of hospitalizations lags behind… and that trend also holds as the cases go up. the disease started to subside,” he told by phone. Saturday.

“You can slow that rate of hospitalizations over time, but you’ll still be under pressure on the healthcare system that has been pushed to its limits.”

Dr. Christine Palmay, a family doctor in Toronto, said hospitalization and ICU data also left a lot of patients facing debilitating symptoms. She and her colleagues have seen many patients test positive for COVID-19 and are struggling with the virus at home.

“They’re not captured by ICU stats. They don’t necessarily go to the ER, but they don’t work,” she said.


Some provinces have also reported that Omicron may peak or near peak. In Ontario, Health Minister Christine Elliott said cases are expected to peak this month, followed by a peak in hospitalizations and ICU admissions. Quebec also reported that the number of hospital admissions fell for the third consecutive day on Saturday.

Wastewater data in BC and Alberta also show signs that the virus may have peaked. However, health officials in Manitoba and Saskatchewan say it is too early to tell.

As COVID-19 cases began hitting unprecedented highs across Canada last month, provinces and territories adopted a variety of health measures affecting restaurants, cinemas, dormitories, and more. education, live schools and more. Currently, some provincial and territorial governments have plans to implement some of these restrictions.

Kindrachuk says these limitations, along with the implementation of enhanced shots, seem to have helped in stable cases. However, as these restrictions begin to ease, he noted that cases are likely to rise again.

“Once you start to remove those safety breaches, you have the possibility that things could start to build up again in the opposite direction. So we had to do that in a very systematic and sure way. Definitely with a lot of scrutiny,” he said.

St. John says he’s also worried about health measures being lifted too quickly.

“We have to wait and stick to our public health measures for as long as possible until we can be absolutely certain that we’ll be out of the woods, and I’m not sure we will,” he said. I’m in a dangerous situation.”

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