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The sixth wave causes a new increase in the number of hospitalizations in Canada | Coronavirus


The number of hospitalizations is again on the rise in several regions in Canada. As of April 7, more than 5,000 Canadians were hospitalized with COVID-19, a 25% increase since mid-March. At the height of the latest wave, more than 10,000 Canadians were hospitalized.

The number of deaths is also starting to rise again. By the end of March, the daily average was 30 deaths; as of April 3, it was more than 40 deaths a day.

Since 1er December 2021, 8,536 Canadians have died from COVID-19. By comparison, about 3,500 Canadians die of the flu each year.

In Quebec, according to the latest CIRANO estimates (New window), between 23,500 and 43,500 Quebecers are infected per day, an increase of approximately 30% compared to the previous week. Nearly 6% of Quebecers (more than 500,000) would have been in isolation due to an infection from March 30 to April 4.

This week, the number of hospitalizations in Quebec exceeded 1,600, an increase of 40% over the past 14 days. Quebec’s acting director of public health, Luc Boileau, says the number of hospitalizations should not exceed the peak reached during the wave in January (3,351 hospitalizations).

On the other hand, we see that in the United Kingdom, which has just experienced a significant increase in cases, hospitalizations exceed the peak reached during the last wave. Hospitalizations are also on the rise in France, Belgium and Italy.

In Ontario, the scientific director of the committee of experts advising the Ford government on the pandemic indicated on Wednesday that Ontario is currently experiencing between 100,000 and 120,000 new infections each day. This estimate is based on wastewater analyses.

The amount of virus in sewage is actually at the same level as the last wave, and the curve continues to rise.

There is a bit of concern at the moment because the curve [est] higher than expectedtold CBC (New window) Earl Brown, a virology expert and professor at the University of Ottawa.

A curve shows the exponential rise in the amount of virus in wastewater.

Wastewater monitoring in Ontario shows the level of COVID-19 in the community could exceed levels seen during the last surge in January.

Photo: Ontario’s COVID-19 science table

The number of hospitalizations in this province is also on the rise. More than 1,100 Ontarians are hospitalized, up 40 per cent from last week. Hospitalizations are at the same level as at the beginning of January, just before the meteoric rise in hospitalizations.

British Columbia, Nova Scotia and Manitoba are seeing a slight increase in hospitalizations.

In Ontario, the positivity rate is 18%; in Quebec, it hovers around 17%; in Canada, it is estimated to be 19%.

Loss of smell and taste does not appear to be a common symptom with Omicron. However, the XE variant – a combination of Omicron’s BA.1 and BA.1 sub-variants – seems to cause this symptom. It should be noted that only a handful of cases of this variant have been detected in Canada as of April 7.

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Could your symptoms be caused by the flu? Possibly, but highly unlikely. Influenza rates remain low for this time of year, according to the EpiFlu report of thePublic Health Agency of Canada (New window). In fact, according to the Agency, there was no no evidence of community circulation of influenza throughout the 2021-2022 season.

The positivity rate in Canada for flu tests is exceptionally low, or 0.13%, compared to more than 20% during the pre-pandemic years. This flu season (which began on August 29, 2021) has seen only 551 reported flu detections, compared to more than 38,000 at this point in the past six pre-pandemic flu seasons.

From August 29, 2021 to March 12, 2022, fewer than five influenza-associated hospitalizations were reported by participating provinces and territories.

It should also be remembered that if you have contracted COVID-19 during the last waves, you may be reinfected. It is still difficult to say what the reinfection rate is with the BA.2 subvariant.

Still contagious after five days

While several provinces have reduced isolation times to five days, it should be remembered that an infected person can be contagious for up to 10 days. Moreover, a study from the United Kingdom (New window) estimates that 31% of people would still be infectious after five days, 16% after seven days. It is only on the tenth day that it falls below 5%.

This is why a person who comes out of isolation after five days must continue to wear a mask.

Tests: rub the inside of the cheeks and the throat

Even if your symptoms are mild, doctors recommend getting tested. First, confirming your infection allows you to warn people with whom you have been in contact that they have been exposed to the virus.

In addition, by having a positive test, those at risk could have access to antiviral treatment, which must be taken quickly after the onset of symptoms. Finally, having a positive test may be necessary later if you develop long-term symptoms of COVID-19.

Some will have noticed that rapid antigenic tests (self-tests at home) seem to detect Omicron infections later. In this new wave, some people are testing positive four to five days after their symptoms started.

Note that it is not because the test takes longer to detect the presence of the virus that it is not effective. Rather, it is that the viral load takes longer to peak (thus delaying detection) in the case of Omicron.

And just because you test negative doesn’t mean you don’t have COVID, experts say. As soon as you develop cold symptoms, that’s a sign you might have it.told CBC (New window) Dr. Kashif Pirzada, an emergency physician in Toronto. The rapid test, even if it’s negative, don’t take it as gospel, especially right now.

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This is why it is recommended that if you have access to multiple tests, you test yourself every 24 hours while you are symptomatic. Otherwise we can test ourselves every two to three days to ration the tests.

The governments of Ontario and Nova Scotia also suggest people take a sample by rubbing the swab down their throat and inside the cheeks before doing it in their nostrils. The Government of Quebec also announced this recommendation on Friday.

According to an analysis from Nova Scotia (New window) made in January 2022, the efficiency of rapid tests increases from 65% to 89% when a sample is taken from the throat and nose.

A picture shows where to rub the swab, which is on the back of the cheek and in the nostrils.

Quebec government guidelines now suggest rubbing the swab inside the cheek before rubbing it into the nostrils.

Photo: Government of Quebec

Wearing a mask and vaccination, still the best weapons

The best ways to avoid COVID-19 are to continue wearing a mask and getting vaccinated. The Chief Public Health Officer of Canada, Theresa Tam, has also repeated this week that any relaxation of health measures will cause resurgences in cases of COVID-19. Dr. Tam encourages people to continue wearing masks and getting three doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

In Canada, only Quebec, Prince Edward Island and Nunavut require the wearing of masks in public places. In the United States, very few places require it.

On the other hand, throughout the world, this measure is still mandatory. This is particularly the case in Italy, Portugal, Finland, Norway, Spain, Greece, South Korea, Japan, New Zealand, Turkey, Chile, Peru, Bolivia, India and Indonesia.

Other countries, such as Germany, Poland, France, Belgium, Hungary and Brazil, still impose the wearing of masks in health establishments and on public transport.

A masked cashier in a grocery store.

The rules around masks differ from province to province.

Photo: iStock

Fully vaccinated persons and those who have received an additional dose are largely protected against the serious consequences of an infection. More than 70% of Canadians hospitalized and deceased from COVID-19 since mid-December 2020 are unvaccinated or partially vaccinated.

Compared to people who received two doses, unvaccinated cases were 4 times more likely to have been hospitalized and 5 times more likely to have died. Compared to people who had a booster dose, unvaccinated people were 9 times more likely to have been hospitalized and 16 times more likely to have died.

According to data published this week by the Ontario Science Table, vaccinated people who have received at least two doses are 75.6% less likely to end up in hospital and 84.9% less likely to end up in intensive care, compared to unvaccinated people.

In Canada (New window)less than 50% of the population has received three doses of the vaccine.

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