Ontario is reporting 56 more COVID-19-related deaths in the past seven days, down sharply from its seventh-wave high of 96 the previous week.
The news comes two weeks after Chief Medical Officer Dr Kieran Moore told reporters that the latest wave of the virus, caused by the BA.5 Omicron subvariant, had peaked. The province said the seventh wave officially began on June 19.
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Deaths are considered a “lagging indicator”, one of several serious outcomes that can continue to rise even after a wave peaks.
Data recently released by the Department of Health on Thursday shows the number of people hospitalized with the virus is down slightly from 1,382 this time last week to 1,328.
The number of people in intensive care due to the virus fell slightly — 137 on Thursday from 142 a week ago.
Thursday’s test positivity was 14.7%, up slightly from last week’s positivity rate of 13.4%.
Positivity rates are based on the number of people who test for the virus. Last January, the province decided to limit PCR testing to high-risk populations and settings only.
On Thursday, Public Health Ontario also released its latest COVID-19 situation report for the week of August 7 to August 13.
In it, the public health agency says case rates have declined overall, but have increased among children zero to four years old and 12 to 19 years old. Still, he says that while the percentage of cases has increased for both groups – by eight and nine percent respectively – the rates remain low compared to those aged 20 and over.
The highest number of reported cases has been observed in people aged 80 and over. People in this age group also continue to have “much higher” rates of hospitalizations and deaths compared to all other age groups, says OPH.
Experts have said the number of reported cases is a serious underestimate of the actual extent of COVID-19 activity in Ontario.