Ontario doctors are calling for the Ford government to impose tighter restrictions as COVID-19 cases continue to surge.
On Thursday, the Ontario Medical Association (OMA) said that the new colour-coded system released last week — which places regions into five colour-coded categories depending on their epidemiological trends — was insufficient at a time when the province is reporting record-high numbers.
Right now, the doctors working on the front lines are supporting the framework but say it’s “too lax and allows too many businesses to remain open.”
“Doctors are worried. It is clear the new tiered framework is not enough to control the virus, which is spreading among more and more people,” Dr. Samantha Hill, president of the Ontario Medical Association, said in a statement.
“We must do more to protect the people of Ontario, especially those weaker than ourselves. That is why we are advising our partners in care, Premier Ford and Ontario mayors, to fix this framework and put more resources into testing and contact tracing in the meantime. You have the support of doctors to do it.”
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The new framework places each of Ontario’s public health units in a green, yellow, orange, red or lockdown category based on a series of trends such as how many people are testing positive or being hospitalized.
According to the OMA, the trends, or thresholds at which regions move from tier to tier, should be “much lower, in some cases 50 percent lower.”
“We strongly recommend locations in the “restrict” (yellow) and “control’ (red) categories should close bars and indoor dining altogether,” they said.
“And for hotspots such as Toronto, Peel and Ottawa, which are all close to lockdown, Ontario’s doctors strongly recommend stopping all non-essential services including all public events to gain control of the spread while strengthening public health measures.”
On Saturday, Toronto is set to move into the Red – Control level, which would see restaurants, bars, fitness classes, cinemas and casinos reopen with 10 people indoor maximum capacity.
However, Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa used her authority to ensure the businesses remained closed for another 28 days.
“Ontario’s doctors want to work with Premier Ford to make our province as safe as possible for as many people as possible,” Allan O’Dette, OMA CEO, said in a statement. “We can’t have a healthy economy without healthy people. Following the recommendations of Ontario’s doctors will stop the spread and support a safe reopening.”
Currently, in the yellow level, the region must have 10 to 39.9 range of people with the virus per 100,000 with a positivity rate of 1 to 2.5%. And the reproductive number must be around 1, meaning the virus is not spreading.
In the orange phase, the region must have 40 to 99.9 range of people with the virus per 100,000 with a positivity rate of 2.5% to 9.9%. The reproductive number must be between 1 and 1.2 meaning the virus is not spreading or spreading mildly.
And, in order to be in the red zone, the positivity rate must be more than 10%, and there must be more than 100 people with the virus out of 100,000.
There are a total of 88,209 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Ontario reported to date.