4th wave

Experts worry Ontario's 4th wave could get serious within weeks

As Ontario residents continue to enjoy the liberties granted to us nearly six weeks ago under Step 3 of reopening, health experts have been cautioning the public about a burgeoning fourth wave that they now say could be the worse we've seen of COVID-19 thus far.

While some scientists have eschewed the wave terminology given that we've never really fully overcome the virus, but have simply seen ebbs and surges, officials such as Chief Public Health Officer of Canada Dr. Theresa Tam have indeed confirmed this month that the next "wave" is already upon us, with daily new case numbers on the upswing.

These numbers hit as high as 722 new cases in Ontario on Aug. 21 after new cases had fallen to below 200 per day throughout most of July.

The majority of these cases have been among the unvaccinated, and though more than 80 per cent of the province now has a first dose and more than 75 per cent are fully vaxxed, cities are culling clinics as fewer and fewer people turn out.

The numbers are increasing at rate some would consider concerning while vaccination rates slow, leading some to believe we're in for trouble in the coming weeks.

Dr. Peter. Juni, scientific director of Ontario's COVID-19 Science Advisory Table, told CP24 Monday evening that the province could see 1,300 new cases per day in just three weeks' time thanks to the Delta variant and a speedy doubling time of new infections, though his team has yet to release any firm modelling projections for the fall.

This statement came one day after a member of the table quit due to what he called a lack of public transparency regarding said projections.

Premier Doug Ford and his team have been urging those who haven't yet gotten their first and/or second jabs to do so, saying last week "we are not done with COVID yet" and that the virus remains a threat that will be with us for a while to come.

Current [rising] case numbers, vaccination uptake and other key health indicators are the reason that the province remains stalled in Step 3 rather than progressing to a more expanded reopening, as we were due to as soon as Aug. 6.

Many residents are thus anticipating another iteration of lockdown — which Ford said last month will never happen — and the cancellation of big autumn plans.

Meanwhile, a nursing shortage after a mass exodus from the industry further complicates things.

Some experts are advocating for the reintroduction of certain public health restrictions and closures at some point, especially leading up to a new school year, while others say that climbing case counts don't mean the same during this wave as they did previously, as cases among vaccinated people should be far milder.

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