Omicron risk of hospitalisation, death is 54% lower than Delta: Canada study

The findings came from Public Health Ontario, the agency handling the pandemic for Canada’s most populous province
An employee screens a person entering Eatonville Care Centre after new provincial rules limiting visitations at long term care homes come into effect due to spiking coronavirus disease (Covid-19) case numbers in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (REUTERS)
An employee screens a person entering Eatonville Care Centre after new provincial rules limiting visitations at long term care homes come into effect due to spiking coronavirus disease (Covid-19) case numbers in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (REUTERS)
Updated on Dec 31, 2021 06:37 PM IST
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Even as record numbers of fresh infections caused by the Omicron variant of COVID-19 continue to be reported in Canada, a new study has indicated that the associated risk of hospitalisation or death is more than 50% lower than that for Delta.

The findings came from Public Health Ontario, the agency handling the pandemic for Canada’s most populous province. “We compared Covid-19 cases with Omicron to closely matched cases with Delta and found the risk of hospitalization or death was 54% lower for Omicron,” the agency said, in a tweet. However, it warned that “given Omicron is more transmissible, we expect an increase in hospitalizations”.

That result was based on comparison of 6,314 cases caused by Omicron against those caused by the Delta variant. According to the study “Omicron appears to be the first dominant variant to demonstrate a decline in disease severity,” as per the newswire Canadian Press.

Those hopeful findings came as Canada was trying to cope with an unprecedented surge in Covid-19 cases. The country reported 39,818 new infections on Thursday, according to CTV News.

In attempting to deal with the spike, Canada’s worst hit province Quebec announced reimposition of an overnight curfew that will come into place on New Year’s Eve, thereby barring any celebratory gatherings.

As Quebec officials forecast even higher numbers going ahead, it also closed down dining in restaurants.

At the same time, noting that Omicron posed a lower risk, Ontario relaxed isolation norms for those infected. Those infected but previously vaccinated or children under 12 will be required to isolate for just five days from the onset of symptoms, according to a release from the provincial Government. This decision, it noted, was “based on growing evidence that generally healthy people with Covid-19 are most infectious in the two days before and three days after symptoms develop”/

However, unvaccinated, partially vaccinated, or immunocompromised individuals will be required to isolate for 10 days.

In a statement released on Thursday, Canada’s chief public health pfficer Dr Theresa Tam said that during the latest seven-day period from December 23 to 29, an average of 25,332 new cases were reported daily across Canada, an increase of 141% compared to the previous week.

As of December 29, 2021, there have been over 34,000 cases of the Omicron variant reported in 12 provinces and territories; however, Tam added, “these cases likely represent just the tip of the iceberg”.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Anirudh Bhattacharya is a Toronto-based commentator on North American issues, and an author. He has also worked as a journalist in New Delhi and New York spanning print, television and digital media. He tweets as @anirudhb.

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