Ontario reports 96 new COVID-19 deaths, a new 7th-wave high

Ontario is reporting 96 more deaths linked to COVID-19 over the past seven days, making this the deadliest week of the seventh wave so far.

The news comes one week after Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore told reporters the latest wave of the virus, driven by the BA.5 Omicron subvariant has peaked. The province has said the seventh wave officially began June 19.

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Deaths are considered a “lagging indicator,” one of a number of severe outcomes that could continue to rise even after a wave peaks.

Newly released data from the Ministry of Health Thursday shows the number of people in hospital with the virus is down slightly from 1474 this time last week to 1382.

The number of people in intensive care because of the virus increased slightly — 142 Thursday compared to 139 a week ago.

Test positivity on Thursday was 13.4 per cent, peaking at 14.4 per cent on Monday. That’s lower than last week’s peak test positivity of 17.7 per cent on Aug. 1.

Positivity rates are based on the number of people who test for the virus. This past January, the province moved to limit PCR testing to high-risk populations and settings only.

On Thursday, Public Health Ontario also released its latest COVID-19 status report for the week July 31 to Aug. 6.

In it, the public health agency says case rates decreased over the period for all age groups except five-to-11-year-olds, though cases nevertheless remain low in that age group.

The highest reported number of cases was seen in those 80 and older. Individuals in that age group also continue to have “much higher” rates of hospitalizations and deaths compared to all other age groups, PHO says.

Experts have said reported case counts are a severe underestimate of the actual extent of COVID-19 activity in Ontario.

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