Ontario is seeing encouraging signs that the omicron wave is peaking, the province’s health minister said, as the government nears a decision on easing restrictions that have closed gyms, restaurants and other businesses. 

“We are starting to see glimmers of hope,” Christine Elliott said during a news conference Wednesday.

Canada’s largest province has seen a sharp rise in COVID-19 patients in the hospital this month, with 4,132 people now hospitalized with the virus, nearly 600 of them in intensive care. 

But the rate of increase in hospitalizations is slowing -- they’re now doubling about every two weeks, rather than every few days, Elliott said. Health officials are becoming “increasingly confident” hospitals will have enough capacity, she said, though she cautioned the health system will continue to see challenges into February. 

The typical length of stay for hospitalized patients is about five days with the omicron variant, compared with nine days for the delta variant, Chief Medical Officer Kieran Moore said at the same news conference. Ontario has administered 5.7 million booster doses of a COVID-19 vaccine; the province has about 15 million people. 

Premier Doug Ford told an Ottawa radio station that he expects to announce “some positive news” this week on restrictions. 

When Ford announced tighter restrictions on Jan. 3, he said they would last until at least Jan. 26. The rules imposed strict limits on indoor gatherings and forced gyms, theaters, concert venues and restaurant dining rooms to close.