Ontario removes more than 400 deaths from official COVID-19 count

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Ontario has removed more than 400 deaths from its official COVID-19 count after further analysis revealed the causes of those deaths weren’t related to the disease.

A nurse attends to a COVID-19 positive patient in the Humber River Hospital intensive care unit on Jan. 13, 2022. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Ontario has removed more than 400 deaths from its official COVID-19 count after the province says further analysis revealed the causes of those deaths weren’t related to the disease.

The Ministry of Health reported Friday that a total of 12,227 people with COVID-19 have died since Jan. 15, 2020, which is 411 fewer than yesterday’s total of 12,638 reported by Public Health Ontario.

“On March 11, 2022, the count of COVID-19 deaths was changed to exclude fatal cases of COVID-19 where the cause of death was found to be unrelated to COVID-19,” reads a note explaining the methodology change on the ministry’s website. 

“As a result, a number of deaths have been removed from the total counts.”

The province also changed the way it reports COVID-19 deaths starting Friday. The new method means the province will break down the number of new deaths according to three categories: whether COVID-19 caused a death, contributed to a death but was not the “underlying cause” or if a person’s cause of death is unknown or missing.

2 years since COVID-19 declared pandemic

The change comes as Canada observes a national day of observance, marking two years since the World Health Organization officially declared COVID-19 a global pandemic.

“To the friends, families and communities who have lost loved ones, I offer my sincere and heartfelt condolences,” Health Minister Christine Elliott tweeted Friday morning.

Meanwhile, Ontario reported 717 people in hospital with COVID-19 on Friday. Today’s reported hospitalization number marks a decrease from Thursday, when 742 were reported to be in hospital. Last Friday, 821 people were in hospital with COVID-19.

According to Elliott, 46 per cent of patients were admitted to hospital for COVID-19, while 54 per cent were admitted for other reasons but have since tested positive for the virus. 

Of the hospitalizations reported, there are 238 patients in intensive care, down slightly from 244 on Thursday, and down from 262 one week earlier.

Of the ICU patients, 76 per cent were admitted because of COVID-19, and 24 per cent were admitted for other reasons but later tested positive.

The Ministry of Health also reported another 2,130 new COVID-19 cases Thursday, though chief medical officer of health Dr. Kieran Moore warned last week the actual number of new cases each day is likely 10 times higher than what is being reported due to limited PCR testing. 

Mask mandates lifting March 21

​On Wednesday, the province announced the removal of mask mandates in schools, restaurants, gyms and stores across Ontario on March 21. 

Moore ​said the province is continuing to closely monitor COVID-19 data as it moves toward easing further public health measures.

“We do expect transmission to continue across Ontario so the risk is not gone, [it] does remain.” Moore told CBC Radio’s Metro Morning on Thursday.

​”I​t’s just that now with our very high immunization rate, we’re in a much better position to remove the mandate of masks.”​

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