The City of Toronto laid out its action plan for the resurgence of COVID-19 expected to come in the fall and winter months.
On Monday, Mayor John Tory said that the city is strengthening case contact and outbreak management, as well as preventative measures specifically for schools and long-term care homes. And is increasing PPE supply for frontline workers.
“We are working to do everything we can as a city government to help people come back with confidence,” Tory said, adding that “COVID-19 is a marathon, not a sprint.”
Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa said that the coronavirus statistics studied have informed Toronto Public Health (TPH) on what to do moving into the fall and winter months.
“We will see resurgence there is no question… the resurgence of COVID-19 is inevitable,” de Villa said.
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She said based on research in the US at the University of Minnesota there are three possible scenarios in the coming months.
The first is a series of repetitive small waves over the next year or so, the second is a large wave in the fall and winter with smaller subsequent waves similar to Spanish Flu, and third, that there’s a “slow burn” of COVID-19 transference with no clear wave pattern.
“My team continues to listen to emerging scientific evidence,” de Villa said.
This has lead to TPH working with the school boards and province to offer advice and support for infection presentation measures and are hiring additional nurses to provide more on-the-ground expertise.
“Re-opening schools is a significant challenge, but if we continue to follow the advice of our public health experts, I believe we can do everything possible to keep students and staff safe,” Board of Health Chair, Councillor Joe Cressy said.
And to help with infection, prevention and control measures Toronto is setting up a voluntary isolation centre for people with COIVD-19 who cannot isolate safely at home.
“This is an important step for our city to limit spread,” de Villa added.
She also noted that certain neighbourhoods have been hit “much harder” by the pandemic, instigating TPH to have Community Outreach Rapid Response Teams as well as multilingual teams to make sure necessary information is easily accessible.
The public health unit is also working with the province for pop up testing sites.
De Villa said that for long-term care homes there will be a liaison response model and partnerships between public health, hospitals, and the province to ensure the safety of vulnerable residents.
The city’s top doctor said that the vast majority of the population does not have immunity and should continue to follow public health advice.
The GTHA mayors said they are seeing “fairly good compliance” with masking by-laws and orders, and other health regulations put in place at areas of concern, such as restaurants and gyms.
“So far, all the municipalities have seen good compliance with public health regulations at these establishments and very little reported non-compliance or virus transmission linked to our bars and restaurants,” the statement said.
De Villa added that a vaccine is likely not going to be available until the spring of 2021 at the earliest, and following these health measures is the best way to limit virus spread.