Ontario’s top health officials say the province could see between 800 and 1,200 COVID-19 cases per day by the end of November.
At a press conference on Thursday, officials released updated modelling data for the province. Although cases remain high, they said that the growth of the virus is slowing across the province.
“Most indicators show slowing growth in COVID-19 cases, trajectory appears to be moving away from worst case but cases are continuing to climb,” officials said in a report.
In September, the province forecasted they would see 1,000 new COVID-19 cases per day in the first half of October.
The data shows that positivity rates are continuing to increase in older age groups, which officials say will have significant health and health system consequences. Weekly positivity rates in those aged 75 and older rose from 1.1% at the end of September to 2.3% at the end of October. Currently, the highest positivity rate is found in those aged 14 to 17 (4.3%), followed by those aged 18 to 24 (3.8%).
While growth in hospitalizations is slowing, spillover risk persists, according to officials. From October 5 to 26, there was a 56% increase in confirmed COVID bed occupancy in Ontario, according to the data. More than 300 people remained hospitalized across the province.
With the slowing growth, the risk of overwhelming ICUs has lowered as well.
Cases in long term care homes have continued to increase throughout the pandemic, they say. As of October 27, there are confirmed COVID-19 outbreaks at 87 homes across the province, with active cases in 396 residents and 281 staff. Since the start of the pandemic, 1,934 long term care home residents and eight staff members have died from the virus – 27 within the last week.
There is substantial variation in new cases between the province’s health units, with Peel Region accounting for 83.1 new cases per 100,000 people per day. Toronto is seeing 72 new cases per 100,000 people. Peel region, Toronto, and York region have all seen cases per 100,000 people rise since the areas were moved to a modified stage 2.
Toronto has the highest percentage of positive cases without a known epidemiological link. In the week ending October 24, 65% of new cases in the city had no known link.
In October, the greatest number of outbreaks began in long term care and retirement homes. In September, most outbreaks were linked to daycares and schools.
In the four regions that are in a modified stage 2, schools and daycares accounted for a substantial source of outbreaks recorded since August 1. Long term care and retirement homes also accounted for a large portion of the reported outbreaks.
In Toronto, restaurants, bars, and clubs were the source of 27% of COVID-19 outbreaks recorded since August 1, while grocery, retail and services accounted for 8% and gyms and sports accounted for 6%.
Based on the data, health officials believe that while the pandemic is still spreading in the province, it is slowing.
It will be important to continue to respond to the virus differently within each of the province’s public health units to account for regional variations, officials say.