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COVID-19: Deaths, hospitalizations up slightly in Ontario; Numbers stable in Ottawa


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COVID-19 related deaths and hospitalizations continued to climb slightly on Saturday, with 34 deaths added to the toll, and 1,024 Ontarians in hospital.

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The death toll includes three old fatalities added to the list, brining the toll to 12,420 deaths since the pandemic began.

There hospitalization totals were up by 21 since Friday. There are 284 people in intensive care, a drop of 13 from the previous day.

Ontario is reporting 2,338 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 Saturday. This figure is regarded as an underestimation due to reduced testing.

The province is aware of 18,561 active cases of the virus.

In capital area health units: Eastern Ontario, which includes Hawkesbury and Cornwall, had 30 new cases, Kingston reported 72, Leeds Granville Lanark saw 25, while Renfrew City and County registered 18.

Wastewater data being monitored by Ontario’s science advisory table suggests that COVID-19 activity in the province is starting to rise again, after consistently declining since early January.

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The province is set to lift all remaining capacity limits for indoor public settings on Tuesday, as well as end its vaccine certificate system.

COVID-19 news in Ottawa

COVID-19 conditions were stable on Saturday with Ottawa Public Health reporting 140 new cases and no new deaths.

The data brings the total number of cases to 62,492 and the number of deaths to 740.

OPH is aware of 926 active cases of the virus.

Hospitalizations were down slightly to 18, two of them in intensive care.

There were no new outbreaks in health-care or congregate living facilities, with 18 outbreaks ongoing.

Those who closely watch the total number of COVID-19 deaths in Ottawa may have been perplexed on Friday, when the number of deaths went down, not up.

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Ottawa Public Health had reported 754 total COVID-19 deaths since the pandemic began on Thursday. On Friday, that number had dropped to 740.

“As a result of a quality assurance process and following Ontario Ministry of Health direction, 16 deaths pre-July 2021 have been determined to not be related to COVID,” an OPH spokesperson said. “These changes are reflected in the cumulative counts and in all COVID-19 Open Data products.”

There were also two new deaths reported in Ottawa, so Friday’s total number was 14 less than Thursday’s.

In a statement, OPH said it follows Public Health Ontario and the Ministry of Health’s guidance in reporting deaths attributed to COVID-19.

On Jan. 26, the Ontario Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Kieran Moore, issued a memo to all physicians and registered nurses in the extended class who sign a medical certificate of death, outlining the provincial expectations for death attribution categorization, said OPH.

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In response to this memo, Public Health Ontario, in collaboration with Moore’s office, have developed definitions for the “type of death field’ in the case and contact management system to help users categorize confirmed COVID-19 cases that result in a death in a consistent manner, said OPH.

Starting March 1, Public Health Ontario and the Ministry of Health will be using the “type of death” field in case and contact management system for provincial public reporting, said OPH. Deaths with a type of death recorded with a “disease of public health significance was unrelated to cause of death” will be excluded from the publicly reported total provincial death counts as of March 1. That will also apply retrospectively to fatal cases.

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A OPH spokesperson could not comment on how the change will potentially affect the numbers of deaths across the province that have so far been attributed to COVID-19.

From early in the pandemic, public health officials had warned that people of any age with a serious underlying medical conditions would be at higher risk for severe illness and death if infected with COVID-19.

In November 2020, Statistics Canada reported there was clear evidence that people with pre-existing chronic conditions or compromised immune systems were at higher risk of dying of COVID-19, especially for those over age 80.

Statistic Canada counted deaths due to COVID-19 as those for which COVID-19 was found to be the underlying cause of death as defined by the World Health Organization: The disease or injury which initiates the train of events leading directly to death.

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When a pre-existing condition is suspected of putting a person at higher risk of a severe course of COVID-19 resulting in death, the death was counted as a death due to COVID-19 rather than a death due to the pre-existing condition.

“It is also possible that the death may have been influenced by COVID-19 but caused by another disease or an unintentional injury event,” Statistics Canada said.

“In these situations, COVID-19 should still be recorded on the medical certificates of cause of death, but would not be considered a death due to COVID-19.”

Of the more than 9,500 COVID-involved deaths between March and July 2020, about 90 per cent had at least one other cause, condition or complication reported on the certificate, Statistics Canada said.

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Dementia or Alzheimer’s disease were listed on the death certificate of 42 per cent of the women and one-third of the men in COVID-involved deaths.

In the early months of the pandemic between Jan. 15 and May 14, 2020, COVID-19 cases reporting at least one comorbidity accounted for about half of all hospitalizations, 55.5 per cent of ICU admissions and 36.8 per cent of deaths, Public Health Ontario reported.

The most common comorbidities were cardiovascular condition, followed by asthma and/or COPD and diabetes.

COVID-19 news in Quebec

Quebec is reporting 14 more deaths linked to COVID-19 as of Saturday, along with a 53-person drop in the number of people hospitalized with the virus.

There are 1,479 people hospitalized with COVID-19 after 87 were admitted and 135 were dismissed. The number of people in intensive care dropped by five to 100.

Authorities say there were 1,175 new cases detected through PCR testing, which is reserved for certain high-risk groups.

There were about 15,120 vaccines administered in the previous 24 hours, including nearly 12,000 third doses.

-With files from Joanne Laucius and the Canadian Press

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