Ontario reported 35 new COVID-19 deaths on Thursday, with hospitals reporting a new all-time high for combined acute and ICU admissions.

The Ministry of Health said that there 3,630 people admitted to hospital with COVID-19 on Thursday, up from 2,472 one week ago.

Of those, there were 500 adults in intensive care, up 162 from one week ago.

With Thursday’s report, a total of 208 people have died of COVID-19 across the province over the past week, including 33 residents of long-term care homes, bringing total pandemic deaths to 10,480.

Scarborough Health Network Dr. Martin Betts says his hospital has “never seen more COVID-19 patients” than it is seeing right now.

“We have 20 per cent more COVID patients than we have ever had at any point in the pandemic,” he told CP24.

He said that while non-critical ward COVID patients make up most of the burden now, that will likely shift later on this month.

“It’s probably just a matter of time before those patients matriculate to the ICU.”

Health officials said this week they expect hospital admissions to peak in the latter half of January, with ICU numbers cresting in early February.

The province recently began distinguishing people admitted to hospital because of COVID-19 symptoms, from so-called “incidental” admissions where COVID-19 was not the reason a patient began treatment in hospital.

On Thursday, Health Minister Christine Elliott said 18 per cent of ICU patients and 46 per cent of acute care patients admitted to hospitals were admitted for other medical care and later happened to test positive for COVID-19.

Betts told CP24 this distinction is a “misconception.”

He said that outside of people admitted for trauma such as a broken bone or pregnant women experiencing labour, COVID-19 is very often a factor or the main factor as to why a patient needs care.

“The (incidental) numbers don’t really reflect the illnesses we are truly seeing. In my ICU just last week we admitted patients with cardiac arrest, because of COVID, we admitted them with congestive heart failure, because they had myocarditis from COVID,” he said.

“So I don’t make a lot of the incidental COVID-19 numbers. What we found in our hospitals, if you are admitted with COVID “pure” your length of stay is actually shorter than if you had an incidental COVID finding.”

With hospitalizations becoming the primary macro indicator for Omicron, Ontario Chief Medical Officer Dr. Kieran Moore said the next “few weeks” is the soonest he believes trends could stabilize.

“We may get better clarity next week - on whether we’re going to see a plateau in hospitalizations data,” he said.

Asked about where the latest several hundred COVID-19 deaths are coming from, Moore said the sheer rate of infection caused by Omicron means deaths will rise.

“Because Omicron is affecting so many people at once because of its high transmissibility - we will have a higher number of deaths associated with it but a smaller percentage of overall cases,” he said, adding the province is working to generate “better data” about causes of death in people testing positive for COVID-19.

Provincial labs processed nearly 59,000 test specimens in the previous period, generating a positivity rate of 21.4 per cent.

The overall number of cases detected on Thursday was 9,909.

But everyone involved in Ontario’s pandemic response now says this is a significant undercount due to major limits placed on test access two weeks ago.

Of those who qualified for PCR testing, 1,336 of the positive cases detected Thursday involved unvaccinated people, 303 involved partially vaccinated people, 7,753 involved people with at least two doses of vaccine and the status of another 517 cases was not known.

Ontario says 164,000 additional COVID-19 vaccine doses were administered on Wednesday.

Of those, 11,839 were first doses, 11,195 were second doses and 140,840 were third doses.

Across all age groups, 83.5 per cent of residents have at least one dose, 78 per cent have two doses and 35 per cent have three doses.

The numbers used in this story are found in the Ontario Ministry of Health's COVID-19 Daily Epidemiologic Summary. The number of cases for any city or region may differ slightly from what is reported by the province, because local units report figures at different times.