Rising Omicron Cases Could Bring Canada’s Healthcare System To The Edge

An increase in COVID-19 cases fueled by the highly infectious Omicron variant of the virus has renewed concerns among experts about the ability of Canada’s hospitals and healthcare workers to handle another wave of the pandemic.

Paul-Emile Cloutier, president of HealthCareCAN, said the latest wave could make the current healthcare worker shortage worse. HealthCareCAN represents research hospitals and regional health authorities.

“If they have to isolate themselves because they have the virus, that reduces the number of personnel available,” Cloutier said in an interview Sunday.

“Healthcare professionals are stepping up once again, as they normally do, and trying to provide the care that patients need. But they do it when they are tired. They do it when they are exhausted. They are doing it when they are at the end. of his rope “.

The highly infectious Omicron variant of the virus has been driving an increase in COVID-19 cases across much of Canada in recent weeks.

Canada’s Olympic mixed doubles curling events were canceled Sunday due to an increase in athletes testing positive for the COVID-19 virus. Curling Canada said that “risks associated with travel” also contributed to the cancellation.

Cloutier said the number of cases in the coming days will depend on whether people followed public health orders, monitored symptoms and stayed home.

“I think everyone agrees that the numbers will go up,” he said.

Only a few health authorities released the number of COVID-19 infections on Boxing Day. Ontario reported 9,826 new COVID-19 cases, which was a decline after a record 10,412 infections on Christmas Day, but still a marked increase from the 4,177 reported a week earlier.

Quebec reported around 8,000 cases and three more deaths as new and stricter COVID-19 restrictions went into effect on Sunday. The province capped off private meetings with six people or two family bubbles.

Experts Concerned About Hospital Capacity As #Omicron Spread Continues. # Covid19 #OmicronVariant

Health officials in Nova Scotia reported more than 1,100 new COVID-19 cases in the past two days.

Dr. Abdu Sharkawy, an infectious disease expert at the University Health Network in Toronto, said the numbers are likely higher than what was reported.

“You can’t imagine that being accurate,” he said.

Several provinces have asked people to get tested only if they have symptoms, as hospitals and centers have reached their testing limits.

British Columbia’s health official, Dr. Bonnie Henry, had previously said that there have been long lines and delays at test sites across the province.

He asked people not to get tested to meet family and friends over the holidays, adding that those who are feeling ill should adjust plans and isolate themselves if they develop symptoms.

Experts have said that this means there are likely more cases than reported.

Sharkawy agreed.

While the variant has so far been described as mild, he noted that it could be more difficult for hospitals to maintain operations if healthcare workers are infected and need to isolate themselves.

Strong contact tracing and increased availability of rapid tests are needed to stop the growing case count, Sharkawy said.

“It is impossible for these numbers to decrease for at least the next three or four weeks, unless very drastic measures are taken.”

This Canadian Press report was first published on December 26, 2021.


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