Ontario hospitals ramp down elective surgeries to increase ICU capacity

TORONTO — Ontario hospitals will start ramping down elective surgeries and non-urgent procedures today to ensure they have the capacity to treat more COVID-19 patients.

Health Minister Christine Elliott said Friday that could increase intensive-care unit capacity in Ontario by up to 1,000 patient beds.

The province reported on Sunday that 605 people were in ICU.

Ontario also said that there were 4,456 new COVID-19 cases in the province on Sunday, marking a new single-day high for new infections.

Hospitals in northern Ontario are exempt from cancelling non-urgent procedures but a memo from Ontario Health on Thursday night said they should prepare to ramp down quickly in the near future.

The memo also asked hospitals to identify staff who may be redeployed to other sites if necessary.

Also Sunday, government officials announced that Ontario will rapidly expand availability of the AstraZeneca vaccine to people aged 55 and over this week.

With an additional 700 pharmacies offering the vaccine, more than 1,400 locations will offer inoculation, with the province expecting to add another 100 by the end of April.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 12, 2021.


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