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Ontario pauses non-urgent surgeries starting Jan. 5 to deal with Omicron surge

Ontario is pausing all non-urgent surgeries starting Jan. 5 in order to prepare for a rapid increase of COVID-19 hospitalizations.

The move to pause non-urgent surgeries was announced on Monday as part of sweeping new measures to blunt the surge of Omicron cases.

"With the numbers of hospitalizations increasing rapidly we will, unfortunately, need the bed spaces, as well as the staff, in order to be able to treat people with Omicron and whatever else comes in," Health Minister Christine Elliott said. 

Elliott said Ontario is also facing staffing shortages in hospitals because many health-care workers are either infected with COVID-19 or are isolating. 

She said the province added about 1,300 new health-care workers to the province's hospitals in past few months, but that won't be enough. 

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore said he expects a 20 to 30 per cent absenteeism rate across all sectors in the coming weeks due to Omicron, including hospitals.

"(Hospitals) have to anticipate that we won't have as many staff as necessary and we have to prepare to increase bed capacity," Moore said. 

He said pausing non-urgent surgeries will free up 1,200 to 1,500 extra beds, which will be "essential to be able to provide oxygen and care" to Omicron patients.

"We anticipate a rapid increase (of patients) heading into the second, third and fourth weeks of January," Moore said.

The Ontario Hospital Association said Monday they are actively working on contingency plans in order to ensure hospitals continue to operate during the Omicron wave. Top Stories

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