Ontario to update data reporting to identify possible incidental COVID deaths: top doc | The Canadian News

Ontario’s top doctor says the province will soon change the way COVID-19-related deaths are reported in a bid to identify possible incidental cases.

Dr. Kieran Moore, medical director of health for Ontario, made the comments during his weekly briefing on COVID-19 on Thursday.

A reporter asked Moore what’s behind the recent spike in COVID-19-related deaths in Ontario, whether it’s Delta or Omicron, and if there are any trends regarding vaccination status or age group of people dying.

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“We are trying to do the same analysis and get the answers to the questions you just raised. Many will be from the previous Delta wave which had severe virulence and higher mortality rates than Omicron,” Moore said.

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“But what we’re also seeing is that because Omicron is affecting so many people at once because of its high transmissibility, we’re going to have a higher number of deaths associated with it, but a very small proportion of the overall total cases.”

Moore also noted that the province recently began differentiating between those who were admitted to the hospital for COVID-19-related illnesses and incidental admissions.

Data has shown that approximately 45 percent of COVID-related hospital admissions are “incidental,” meaning they were admitted to the hospital for a reason other than the virus, but tested positive for COVID during screening. About 20 percent of COVID-related intensive care admissions fall into the same category, Moore said.

When the hospitalization data was first released, Health Minister Christine Elliott noted that it “doesn’t change the dire situation in Ontario hospitals” but provides additional context.

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“It may be that some of these deaths are incidentally related to COVID-19, so we are trying to provide the public with better data and better analysis to understand the true mortality associated with Omicron and Delta as we go forward,” Moore said. .

“We recently met with the chief coroner’s office. We will be sending memos to hospital partners to ensure the death is properly documented if associated with or caused by COVID-19, to further clarify the cause of death to the public.”

Exactly how a death would be considered incidental or directly caused by COVID-19 is unclear.


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The government previously announced intentions to consider changing its reporting of COVID-19 deaths.

On January 7, Alexandra Hilkene, a spokeswoman for Health Minister Christine Elliott, sent a statement to reporters.

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“Due to the highly transmissible Omicron variant, we are evaluating whether there is a need to update reporting to distinguish between causal and incidental deaths related to COVID-19, similar to work being done on hospital reporting,” he said.

“For example, we have heard anecdotal evidence of a small number of people receiving hospice care in congregate care settings who have sadly passed away with COVID but not necessarily from the virus.

“While any change in reporting will not change the fact that these people tragically lost their lives, it is important to be transparent and provide the public with as much context as we can.”

On Thursday, Ontario reported 35 more COVID-related deaths, bringing the provincial death toll to 10,480.

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