ontario news watch

Ontario says hospitals can resume non-urgent surgeries as COVID-19 cases drop

TORONTO — Ontario hospitals have been given permission to resume non-urgent surgeries and procedures as the number of COVID-19 infections declines.

The province’s top doctor says in a memo that he is rescinding an emergency order issued April 20 that told hospitals to temporarily cease the procedures amid an onslaught of cases.

Dr. David Williams says that daily COVID-19 rates, hospitalizations and intensive care admissions appear to be trending downward.

He says some of the province’s hospitals now have capacity to resume cancelled procedures and notes that it’s important to limit the long-term negative impact of waiting for non-urgent care.

A spokeswoman for Health Minister Christine Elliott says the resumption of non-urgent procedures won’t be uniform across the province since it’s dependent on a hospital’s capacity. 

Last week, Ontario’s fiscal watchdog said it will take the province approximately three and a half years to clear the surgical backlog from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Financial Accountability Office projected that the backlog of cancelled surgeries will reach 419,200 procedures by the end of September.

Ontario reported 1,588 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday and 19 more deaths linked to the virus.

Health Minister Christine Elliott said there were 524 new cases in Toronto, 335 in Peel Region, 105 in Ottawa and 94 in York Region. The data was based on more than 38,400 completed tests.

The Ministry of Health said 1,401 people are hospitalized with the novel coronavirus — with 735 in intensive care and 539 on a ventilator.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 19, 2021.

The Canadian Press