An Ontario health official has warned that easing COVID-19 restrictions too fast may lead the province into a third wave.
At a press conference on February 10, Peel Region’s Medical Officer of Health said that any loosening of public health measures must be done gradually as virus variants continue to spread.
“We know, most concerningly, that the new variants detected in our midst could very well drive a third wave if we move too quickly,” Dr. Lawrence Loh told a press conference.
“Rapid variant spread would erase the gains that we have made over the past four months.”
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As well, Loh noted that restrictions must not be lifted too close to the reopening of schools.
Classrooms in Peel, York, and Toronto are set to resume in-person learning on February 16.
Ontario also announced that March Break has been pushed back until the week of April 12 to limit the spread of COVID-19 in the province.
On February 22, the Stay at Home order will be lifted in the regions, at which point they will transition into the province’s updated colour-coded framework.
This paves the way for an eventual reopening of the economy, and loosening of restrictions.
Loh has said, though, that six days is not enough time to accurately assess the impact that opening schools has on community transmission.
He argued that a few more weeks of staying at home may prevent “months more of agony,” hinting that Peel would not soon be open for business.
“Moving too quickly beyond a return to school could present the difference between a third wave or exiting the pandemic successfully in short order,” Loh said.
“I think the risk is clear.”
To date, the province has seen 282,511 COVID-19 cases and 6,614 virus-related deaths.