Ontario is reporting a 20 per cent week-over-week decline in COVID-19 hospitalizations as most public health indicators continue to improve heading into the summer.

The Ministry of Health says that there are now just 536 people with COVID-19 in Ontario hospitals, down from 669 at this time last week and 948 two weeks ago.

Of those people, 110 are receiving treatment in intensive care, including 73 individuals who are breathing with the assistance of a ventilator.

It is the lowest number of COVID-19 patients on mechanical ventilators since November, 2020.

The latest data comes as Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health. Dr. Kieran Moore tells CP24 that he expects it to be a “wonderful summer” for the province following more than two years of pandemic restrictions.

“We're in a safer position that we've been and Ontarians continue to adhere to all the best practices. So 10,000 patients a day continue to come forward to stay up to date with their vaccinations, even today,” Moore said. “I have to thank all Ontarians because we're only in this position because Ontarians have accepted treatments. They have accepted vaccination and they have accepted masking where necessary and I think we are now at a time heading into the summer where we can remove the mandatory nature of masking and Ontarians will remain cautious and careful as we head into the fall.”

Hospitalizations have been steadily declining in Ontario for nearly two months now after peaking at 1,730 in late April.

Virtually all other public health indicators are also showing signs of improvement, with wastewater surveillance data continuing to show a decline in viral activity across Ontario.

Against this backdrop, the Ford government has decided to lift the mask mandate in most remaining high-risk settings as of midnight, though it will remain in effect for long-term care homes and retirement homes.

Speaking with CP24.com this week, the head of Ontario’s COVID-19 Science Advisory table said that he is hopeful that we are now entering what should be a “good summer” which will give overworked healthcare professionals a chance to catch their breath.

But he warned that there is always the possibility of a resurgence in the fall.

“On average, since the pandemic started, one of these variants and a wave has happened about every six months. So if that continues - we have just had this Omicron wave - six months would roughly bring us towards the fall and that would be the time to worry, along with people spending more time indoors as the weather cools, kids are back in school, other respiratory viruses - influenza, RSV as well,” Dr. Fahad Razak said. “So we could have a very challenging fall and winter season and if things get very difficult, lots of admissions to hospitals, lots of people getting sick, I think there would have to be serious reconsideration of all public health measures, including extending the mask mandate and reintroducing them in other settings.”

Ontario added an additional 10 deaths to its COVID-19 tally on Friday. Since the onset of the pandemic in March 2020, a total of 13,324 Ontarians have died as a result of COVID-19.

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