COVID-19 cases fill hospital beds in parts of Quebec, Ontario and New Brunswick


VANCOUVER – Hospitals in several parts of Canada are under the weight of the Omicron variant of COVID-19, with hospitalizations in Quebec reaching an all-time high on Sunday and admissions in Ontario to intensive care units surpassing the 400 mark.

New Brunswick hospitals have also hovered near their highest levels since the start of the pandemic, with 79 people hospitalized, including one in five in intensive care.

Dr Bob Bell, former CEO of the University Health Network and Ontario Deputy Minister of Health from 2014 to 2018, says Canada is in good company when it comes to having its healthcare system tested by COVID-19.

Bell says every western country dealing with Omicron currently has a strained hospital system, but Canada has a lower tolerance for measures like death than places like the United States, so it will pursue lockdowns and restrictions sooner.

Quebec hospital admissions jumped from 140 Sunday to 2,436, and the additional pressure has prompted several hospitals in the province to delay surgeries and medical appointments.

Ontario reported 2,419 hospital patients with the virus on Sunday, down from nearly 2,600 on Saturday – although the province notes that not all facilities share the data over the weekend.

Bell warns that stressed hospitals can also be a symptom of inadequate “upstream” care, such as access to family physicians, home care and community care.

“The hospital is the canary of the coal mine in many ways for the challenges of the healthcare system,” he said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on January 9, 2022.


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