Toronto's top doctor doesn't recommend loosening distancing restrictions soon

Apr 22 2020, 1:31 pm

Toronto’s top doctor said the city cannot ease physical distancing measures until there is better control of COVID-19 cases in the community at large.

On Wednesday, the city’s Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa said that the city is “not in the position to be easing up on public health measures on a large scale.”

According to de Villa, there are 4,069 total cases with 290 in hospital, and of those in hospital, 106 are in ICU.

To date, there are 210 reported deaths — an increase of 20 from Tuesday’s report.

While de Villa said she understands that residents want to go back to enjoying the city, individuals must “stay the course.”

“It is our collective responsibility to protect our city and essential workers who keep us all safe. When the time is right, we will begin easing some of our public health and physical distancing measures.”

Earlier this week, Toronto’s data showed that the general population is in the peak of the coronavirus cases, meaning numbers are not increasing exponentially.

However, cases and deaths are increasing significantly in long-term care homes.

There are currently 73 known outbreaks in retirement homes, long-term care homes and hospitals, resulting in 1,203 positive cases amongst residents and 142 positive cases amongst staff.

There have been 139 reported deaths.

“This is very concerning,” de Villa said. “We need to turn the tide and focus on outbreak control measures.”

The Medical Officer of Health said when the city decides to ease up on measures, there will need to be significant focus on keeping the residents of long-term care homes safe.

As physical distancing measures remain in place for the time being, local business and organizations are still feeling the impact of the pandemic.

Mayor John Tory announced the BusinessTO Support Centre will launch providing support for businesses on completing application for government assistance.

“Businesses will be advised over the phone and online on how they can access the government aid that is now available to them,” Tory said.

Businesses will be paired with an advisor to receive one-on-one consultation and guidance with applications for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit , Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy , Temporary Wage Subsidy for Employers , and the Work-Sharing Program .

Business advisors will also provide guidance on other City programs and general business advice and will provide a weekly webinar on COVID-19 initiatives.

On Wednesday, the City of Toronto also announced it will close High Park during cherry blossom bloom period this year.