The Ontario government will soon update the way it reports COVID-19 admissions.
Alexandra Hilkene, spokeswoman for Health Minister Christine Elliott, said Friday that the province will soon distinguish between those being admitted directly due to COVID and random hospitalizations.
“Currently, Ontario’s hospital admissions include patients who were admitted for COVID-19, as well as individuals who were admitted for other reasons and are now testing positive for COVID-19,” Hilkene said in an email to Global News.
She said on December 29, the province asked hospitals to update their daily reporting to distinguish between the two.
Hilkene said data collection on this information began last week, adding that public reporting will begin “in the near future.”
In another email sent by Hilkene on Friday morning, she said the province is also evaluating whether to update the way deaths are reported.
“Due to the highly transmissible Omicron variant, we are assessing whether there is a need to update reporting to distinguish between causal and accidental deaths related to COVID-19, similar to the work being done on hospital reporting,” she said.
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“For example, we have heard anecdotal evidence of a small number of individuals receiving palliative care in community care settings who have unfortunately gone overboard with COVID, but not necessarily because of the virus.
“While any change in reporting will not change the fact that these individuals tragically lost their lives, it is important to be transparent and give the public as much context as we can.”
The message came as Ontario reported 43 COVID-19-related deaths Friday, 42 of which occurred in 10 days.
Ontario Health Chief Dr. Kieran Moore was asked about random COVID-19 hospital admissions in the province at a December 30 news conference.
He said preliminary talks with Kingston Frontenac Lennox and Addington indicated that about 50 percent of their admissions were random.
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“So someone has a broken leg, if they get hospitalized, they all get screened and they are positive,” Moore said.
“We do not want these numbers to contribute to our understanding of the burden of hospitalizations in Ontario, and therefore we have asked all of our hospital partners to be more energetic in their reporting so that we can provide a reliable source of data for decision makers and Ontarians about the impact of COVID on our hospital sector. “
Moore said “very preliminary” conversations have revealed that when the virus is more prevalent in the community, there may be a greater chance of random occurrences.
When it comes to COVID-19 intensive care units, Moore said he has “more confidence” in that number, as hospitals are only supposed to report those with COVID-related critical illness. However, ICU reporting is also under review.
“We have never had a virus that has become so prevalent in society that people would randomly enter,” Moore noted.
Meanwhile, Ontario on Friday reported the largest number of patients in the hospital with COVID since the start of the pandemic. There were 2,472 people hospitalized with the virus, which has increased by 193 from the day before.
There were 338 patients on intensive care, which has increased by 19.
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