More than two-and-a-half years into the pandemic and hospitals across the country continue to grapple with the effects of COVID-19.
According to data from the Public Health Agency of Canada, between Sept. 15 and Oct. 15 2022, Canadian hospitals saw an average of about 4,700 hospitalizations a day due to COVID-19. During the same period last year, the average had only been 2,000 per day.
Among the hardest hit provinces, Quebec reported over 2,000 COVID-19 hospitalizations for the first-time since August as the province’s minister of health urged residents to get their boosters for added protection.
Ontario health officials have also reported similar trends as hospitalizations rose to 1,629 this week marking the highest number of COVID-19 related hospital occupancies since May 4 of this year. Nova Scotia and New Brunswick are also seeing increased hospitalizations among older patients between the ages of 70 and 80-years-old.
Infectious disease experts have previously reported an uptick in COVID-19 cases was likely to happen in the fall as the influenza season approaches. However, a myriad of factors like emerging variants, other viruses and health concerns have put a strain on hospitals.
Toronto-based emergency room physician Dr. Kashif Pirzada says hospitals have been overwhelmed recently with an increase of children hospitalizations not just from COVID-19 but from other respiratory viruses and influenza.
“It’s not quite clear why this is happening, considering the normal season for these viruses is much later in the winter,” Dr. Pirzada said to CTVNews.ca via email on Friday. “The shortage of pediatric Advil and Tylenol is a reflection of this surge.”
Pirzada warns emerging variants pose an additional threat similar to what the U.K. and Singapore are currently experiencing with the rise of cases linked to the BQ.1.1 and XBB subvariants.
The U.K. Health Security Agency has reported increased COVID-19 activity this week and Singapore’s health minister said in a press conference on Saturday the XBB variant is igniting a sharp but brief wave with the country likely to see 15,000 cases a day.
“We probably have a two- to three-week warning before the same starts happening here,” Pirzada said.