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The spike in cases has strained intensive care capacity across Ontario, prompting discussions about the possible need to triage life-saving care. There are about 50 patients in Humber River’s ICU on April 13, more than 60 per cent of them with COVID-19, says Raman Rai, who manages the ICU. Staffing has become a challenge as exhausted nurses seek time off to rest. Transfers from other units have helped alleviate some pressure but Rai says she still worries about staffing, especially the lack of ICU-trained nurses. Across the province, there were 644 patients with COVID-19-related critical illness in intensive care beds as of April 15, according to Critical Care Services Ontario. The government has promised to create up to 1,000 more ICU beds in response to the growing need. The Canadian Press photographer Nathan Denette captures ICU workers, in hard-hit Toronto, who are witnessing the human side of the startling numbers firsthand.

A 60-year-old COVID-19 patient fights for his life, desperately gasping for air as head intensivist Dr. Ali Ghafouri provides life saving medical care at the Humber River Hospital during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Tuesday, April 13, 2021. The patient was intubated and put on a ventilator successfully.Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press

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Humber River Hospital health-care staff provide medical care for a COVID-19 patient in Toronto on Tuesday, April 13, 2021.Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press

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Health-care staff get ready to prone a 47-year-old woman who has COVID-19 and is intubated on a ventilator in the intensive care unit.Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press

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Registered nurse Jane Abas tends to a COVID-19 variant patient who is intubated and on a ventilator.Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press

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Olivia Coughlin, a registered health-care social worker, calls the family of a COVID-19 patient who's in critical condition.Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press

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A COVID-19 patient fights to breathe. The patient was intubated and put on a ventilator successfully.Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press

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Registered nurse Jane Abas tends to a COVID-19 variant patient.Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press

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Nurse Abas watches over a COVID-19 variant patient.Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press

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A health-care worker takes his break in the ICU's staff lounge.Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press

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Registered nurse Claire Wilkinson tends to a 47-year-old woman who has COVID-19 and is intubated on a ventilator in the ICU at the Humber River Hospital.Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press

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A 47-year-old woman who has COVID-19 has been intubated and is now on a ventilator.Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press

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An essential worker thoroughly cleans a COVID-19 patient's room after being transferred out of the ICU.Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press

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Registered nurse Stephanie Flores, who has been redeployed from the operating room to the ICU, looks out the window in the ICU at the Humber River Hospital.Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press

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