The emergence of the omicron variant has seen a surge in COVID-19 cases in Canada and across the world.
Ontario, for example, has just broken a new record of tallying more than 10,000 in a single day. Given how the public has grown accustomed to focusing on the daily case counts for almost two years now, this at first appears to be a scary figure.
Then again, public health officials first said months ago that we need to stop our fixation on case counts. Instead, data around hospitalizations is what really matters.
There are many signs that the omicron variant is significantly milder than the ones that came before it. While health officials are reluctant to make a definitive call too soon, all signs are pointing in that direction.
Although officials have cautioned that just because omicron may be much milder that doesn’t mean we still won’t have hospital capacity issues. If the number of cases soars, even a tiny percentage of cases requiring hospital treatment could turn into a big number.
We shall see. But, so far, hospital numbers are looking good.
The graph on hospital numbers put together by Alberta Health Services shows that COVID-19 hospitalizations continue to decline. Let’s hope that trend continues.
Ontario has seen a slight increase in their hospital figures, but the current figures have yet to exceed where they were in September. They’re certainly nowhere near where they were at in the first, second and third waves.
There are those who will hasten to remind you that hospital figures are what’s known as a lagging indicator — meaning they don’t start to rise until a couple of weeks after case numbers.
This is true, yet both our own data and stats from around the world are already suggesting that it’s just not going to be anywhere near as bad as in the past.
There’s simply no reason to bring in more restrictions on our lives. Any argument for restrictions, school closures or even lockdowns isn’t based in facts or reason.
While we must continue to protect the vulnerable, we also mustn’t close our eyes to good news — and that’s what we’re currently getting from our hospital stats.