Ontario implementing "enhanced measures" to protect against coronavirus

Mar 2 2020, 11:51 am

Following Ontario’s reports of four new cases of coronavirus over the weekend, the province is implementing enhanced measures to protect the public from COVID-19.

Deputy Premier and Minister of Health Christine Elliott announced Monday that an “enhanced response structure” will formally bring together a wide range of partners to strengthen the province’s plans for a response to the virus.

“Our local public health units, hospitals, emergency health services, nurses and primary care providers, among others, have been critical in managing the early phases of this new coronavirus,” Elliott said in a release.

“This new structure will tap into an even broader network of clinical expertise, experience, and capacity across the health sector to ensure extensive plans are in place to quickly and effectively respond to any and every possible scenario.”

The new response structure features specific mandates, including:

  • A new Command Table that will serve as the single point of oversight, providing leadership and direction that will guide the province’s response to the coronavirus.
  • Five regional planning and implementation tables, which will be responsible for regional response plans and ensuring local readiness.
  • The Ministry’s Emergency Operations Centre (MEOC) will continue to provide situational awareness and perform coordination functions with regards to the province’s response structure.
  • A Scientific Table, led by Public Health Ontario, will support the provincial and regional components of the response structure.
  • An Ethics Table, led by the University of Toronto Joint Centre for Bioethics, will assist in providing ethical guidance and representation at both provincial and regional levels.
  • Sector or Issues Specific Tables, which will have a specific focus like supporting the coordination of repatriated Canadians, or local case and contact management, plus sector-specific coordination such as paramedic services, First Nations health partners, and others as needed.
  • A Collaboration Table with members from key health sector organizations, which will advise the Command Table.

The aforementioned Command Table will be chaired by the Deputy Minister of Health, Helen Angus, and will include Dr. David Williams, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Heath; and Matthew Anderson, Ontario Health’s President and Chief Executive Officer.

It will also include representation from Public Health Ontario, the Ministry of Long-Term Care and the Ministry of Labour, Training, and Skills Development.

“Although the risk to Ontarians remains low, it is important that we take decisive steps to prepare for any scenario as this is a quickly evolving situation globally,” said Elliott.

“As we enter this next phase of preparedness, every Ontarian should have full confidence that these efforts by our dedicated public health professionals and health care leaders will continue to keep them safe.”

The changes made to the province’s response structure compound the steps already taken to respond to the coronavirus, including a dedicated web page, monitoring and containing potential cases, and more.

Of the four new cases of coronavirus reported in Ontario over the weekend, one of the patients reportedly travelled on a GO Bus.

Anyone who travelled on the bus or flight that the patient was on is asked to contact York Region Public Health.