Most public health indicators continue to point to a reduction in COVID-19 viral activity, even as Ontario’s pediatric hospitals struggle to manage an influx of patients with other upper respiratory infections, such as influenza and RSV.

The latest data released by the Ministry of Health on Thursday showed that the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 has fallen to 1,166, with 130 of those people requiring treatment in intensive care.

That is down 16 per cent from this time last week when 1,390 people were testing positive for COVID-19 in Ontario hospitals, including 119 in intensive care.

Meanwhile, positivity rates also continue to tick down.

Over the last seven days, an average of 10.5 per cent of PCR tests processed by Ontario’s labs have come back positive, compared to 11.6 per cent the previous week and 13.7 two weeks ago.

Wastewater surveillance has now pointed to a reduction in COVID-19 activity since early November.

However, Public Health Ontario has warned that influenza activity has so far “exceeded the threshold” for the start of flu season and is starting to put pressure on hospitals.

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore has also expressed concern about the “triple threat” posed by COVID, influenza and RSV amid news that some pediatric hospitals, including the Hospital for Sick Children, have already had to limit surgeries in a bid to free up capacity in their intensive care units.

“We have been talking about this since the spring of 2022. We didn’t need a crystal ball to see this coming. We knew it was going to be a challenging fall and winter and we are in the thick of it now,” infectious disease specialist Dr. Isaac Bogoch told CP24 on Thursday. “Sadly, I think we have to buckle up because it is going to be a very turbulent ride for the next few months.”

The latest data from the Ministry of Health suggests that the number of active COVID-19 outbreaks in the handful of settings with widespread access to PCR testing all fell week-over-week.

As of today, there were 64 active COVID outbreaks in hospitals (down from 80) and 122 active outbreaks in long-term care homes (down from 139).

But with numerous respiratory viruses now circulating the healthcare system is expected to face continued strain throughout the winter.

Speaking with CP24, Bogoch said that “it is clear that it is not 2020 anymore,” with most people either vaccinated or afforded some level of protection as a result of previous infections. But he said that people still need to make “smart decisions,” especially if they are at higher risk.

Ontario added 89 new deaths to its COVID-19 tally over the last week. The total death toll since the onset of the pandemic nearly three years ago now stands at 15,176.