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Experts worried about hospital capacity as Omicron spread continues

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Experts worried about hospital capacity as Omicron spread continues

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OTTAWA – An increase in COVID-19 cases due to the highly infectious variant of the Omicron virus has reignited experts’ concerns about the ability of hospitals and healthcare workers across Canada to handle another wave of the pandemic.

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

“If they have to self-isolate because they have the virus, then that reduces the number of available employees,” Cloutier said in an interview on Sunday.

“Healthcare professionals are stepping up once again, as they normally do, and trying to provide the care patients need. But they do it when they’re tired. They do it when they’re exhausted. They do it when they’re exhausted. are tired. do it when they are at their wit’s end. “

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

Canada’s Olympic Mixed Doubles Curling Trials were canceled on Sunday due to an increase in the number of athletes testing positive for the COVID-19 virus. Curling Canada said “risks associated with travel” also contributed to the cancellation.

Cloutier said the number of cases over the next few days will depend on whether people have followed public health orders, monitored symptoms and stayed at home.

“I think everyone agrees that the numbers are going to increase,” he said.

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

Quebec has reported around 8,000 cases and three other deaths as new, stricter COVID-19 restrictions took effect on Sunday. The province has capped private gatherings at six people or two family bubbles.

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

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

“It is not possible to imagine that this is correct,” 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 health worker Dr Bonnie Henry had earlier said there had been long lines and delays at testing sites across the province.

She asked people not to get tested to meet family and friends while on vacation, adding that those who are not feeling well should adjust their plans and isolate themselves if they develop symptoms.

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

Sharkawy agreed.

Although the variant has so far been described as benign, he noted that it could become more difficult for hospitals to maintain operations if health workers are infected and need to self-isolate.

Robust contact tracing and greater availability of rapid tests are needed to stem the growing number of cases, Sharkawy said.

“There is no way these numbers will slow down for at least the next three to four weeks, unless some very drastic action is taken.”

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

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