Amid a new wave of the COVID-19 pandemic being driven by the highly contagious omicron variant, the Timmins and District Hospital is reporting the number of patients admitted locally.
As of Jan. 5, there were seven patients in Timmins with COVID-19. Two of the patients are COVID-related admissions, said communications specialist Kaileigh Russell.
Additionally, there are 49 patients who have been tested and are waiting for results or who will be tested for COVID-19.
As the requirements for who can get tested for COVID-19 have changed recently, case numbers across the province are underestimated and more focus has been put on the number of hospitalizations. Currently, however, provincial reporting isn't clear on how many people are actually hospitalized because of COVID and not for something unrelated.
On Dec. 30, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Kieran Moore, confirmed there are hospitalization reports that include incidental admissions such as someone coming in with a broken leg who also tests positive for COVID.
“We don’t want those numbers contributing to our understanding of the burden of hospitalizations in Ontario, so we’ve asked all of our hospital partners to be more vigorous in their reporting so that we can provide a reliable source of data to the decision-makers and to Ontarians on the impact of COVID on our hospital sector,” said Moore during the Dec. 30 briefing.
Moore said he’s more confident in the ICU admissions, given hospitals are only supposed to report critical, COVID-related illness.
“I have more confidence in that number, but we are asking them to review it once more,” said Moore.
He said a memo was sent to all hospitals on Dec. 29 asking for data to be reviewed.
The province's daily reporting does not include emergency room visits where a person comes to the ER with COVID or tests positive while they are there.
The Timmins area is currently one of the only Northern Ontario public health regions not actively reporting COVID-19 hospitalizations.
All of the other public health units, except for Public Health Sudbury and Districts, update the hospitalizations daily on their websites. In Sudbury, Health Sciences North provides daily updates and has the information posted on its website.
The Porcupine Health Unit has not responded to TimminsToday's requests for insight about hospitalizations in the region.
The Timmins hospital will be providing public updates on hospitalizations again, said Russell.