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Experts say Ontario needs to look at pivoting its COVID-19 response as the Omicron variant rapidly spreads.

The province’s expert advisory group estimates that Omicron makes up about 11 per cent of cases and is expected to become dominant within weeks.

Based on trends seen in Omicron-dominant regions, one infectious diseases physician says strategies must be developed for scenarios where up to 10,000 people or more are testing positive for the virus each day.

Dr. Zain Chagla said Ontario should plan how to prioritize resources in case that happens, because the current approach to testing and tracing the contacts of every infected person would not work with so many cases.

He said there should also be a plan for the possibility that a large percentage of the essential workforce could be forced to isolate after virus exposures.

Epidemiologist Dr. Jeff Kwong says Ontario’s booster dose plan was based on the Delta variant, but the expected rapid spread of Omicron could mean vulnerable people are exposed before they get a third shot.

Meanwhile, Ontario is reporting 1,476 new COVID-19 cases and eight deaths from the virus.

Health Minister Christine Elliott said 612 of the new cases are among people who aren’t fully vaccinated, while 93 people have an unknown immunization status.

The province said 158 patients are in intensive care due to COVID-19, including 96 people on ventilators.

But not all hospitals report data on the weekend, and the province says the number of patients hospitalized with the virus could be higher.

The province says 80 per cent of all residents aged five and older have at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose and 85 per cent are fully vaccinated.

There are 62 confirmed cases of the Omicron variant in Ontario, and the province’s expert science advisory group estimates that 11 per cent of cases are caused by the new variant.

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