Prepare for "extended closures" as Toronto's coronavirus cases spike to 457

Mar 27 2020, 1:34 pm

Be prepared for extended closures in Toronto, as 108 new known COVID-19 cases are confirmed, with the virus reaching a total of 457 as of Friday afternoon.

The city’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Eileen de Villa said that of these cases, 29 are hospitalized and 15 are in ICU.

Around 25% contracted the virus from community spread, 18 patients have recovered and four cases are confirmed within the shelter system.

“There is a significant increase and we will see similar patterns in the coming days ahead,” de Villa said during Friday’s press conference. “The reality is that we need to be prepared for extended closures.”

Dr. de Villa said this is based on looking at other jurisdictions such as Hong Kong, South Korea, and Japan, where physical distancing was strictly enforced, closures occurred for prolonged periods of time.

“We’re fighting an invisible war with this virus,” she said.

“We need everyone to do their part.”

As cases continue to rise, so does the level of anxiety, and De Villa, along with Chief Matthew Pegg, urged all residents to make sure to tend to their mental health needs during these difficult times.

Both suggested practicing healthy eating and physical activity habits while using support systems and online resources to protect mental health needs.

“When you are in isolation and can’t be socializing with people, it can be very difficult,” Pegg said.

While both acknowledged the difficulties of physical distancing and city closures, De Villa once again emphasized the importance of the measure.

She noted that individuals do not know they have the virus typically for five to six days and sometimes for up to 14 days, and can pass the virus on.

The Chief Medical Officer also added that many travellers are coming back to the city after March Break, and have been to regions where coronavirus is actively circulating.

“Prepare to continue to see dramatic increases in local numbers,” de Villa said. “Take every action you can to practice physical distancing at this critical time.”

Mayor John Tory echoed de Villa’s sentiments and asked all people to stay home.

“It can be difficult with spring coming,” Tory said. “but by staying home you are contributing to saving lives.”

On Wednesday, The City of Toronto announced that it would be closing all parks and playground amenities effective immediately as part of the continuing efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Fines will be issued for anyone who tries to enter the closed spaces, and fines can be as high as $5000, according to Chief Matthew Pegg.

On Monday, Mayor John Tory declared a state of emergency for Toronto.

According to the City, the declaration of a municipal emergency is part of the ongoing efforts to stop the spread of coronavirus and will ensure the municipal government “can continue to act and respond quickly to the pandemic and any other events that arise in the weeks ahead.”

Any residents experiencing stress or crisis and requiring emotional support related to COVID-19 can access the following community resources:
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