OTTAWA (Reuters) – The Omicron variant of COVID-19 is spreading rapidly in Ontario, Canada’s most populous province, and could overwhelm intensive care units early next month without prompt intervention, a panel of experts said on Thursday.
The panel released modeling which said increased vaccination alone would not be enough to fight Omicron. Instead, it called for public health measures to cut peoples’ contacts by 50% and ensure the rapid roll-out of booster doses. “Omicron transmits very quickly … without prompt intervention, intensive care unit occupancy could reach unsustainable levels in early January,” said the modeling.
Ontario, which accounts for just under 40% of Canada’s population, earlier reported 2,421 new daily cases, almost double the number from a week earlier. “Our hospitals will still face incredibly strong pressures. This will come at an already challenging time when health care workers are fatigued or burned out from the preceding waves,” said Steini Brown, head of Ontario’s science table.
“We will need … serious restrictions that reduce contacts. This is a hard decision,” he told a briefing.