The top doctors for Ontario’s three largest public health regions have formally asked the provincial government to issue a province-wide Stay-at-Home order to slow COVID-19 spread.
Medical officers of health for Toronto, Peel, and Ottawa signed the joint letter addressed to Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams on Sunday.
They’re asking for stronger measures than the current province-wide shutdown, pointing to case numbers that continued to rise in Toronto and Peel during the Grey-Lockdown, which had restrictions very similar to the shutdown.
“Given the experiences of other jurisdictions with variants of concern and the current concerning trends throughout the province, we are asking that you, as Chief Medical Officer of Health, issue a province-wide Stay-at-Home order,” the letter says.
Infections have been surging in Ontario lately, with three days of new case counts near or above 3,000 after a week of daily case counts over 2,000.
The province’s latest epidemiological modelling predicted case numbers of 6,000 per day could be seen by the end of April if the province doesn’t enact a Stay-at-Home order.
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After analyzing other jurisdictions around the world experiencing COVID-19 surges driven by variants of concern, the local health officials say Ontario is not unique in that it needs strict lockdowns over large areas to discourage travel, cut down on unnecessary outings, and reduce transmission.
The three doctors also ask the province to review the businesses it deems essential, and potentially ask more to close. Further, they asked the province to limit staffing at essential businesses to no more than 50% of usual in addition to the limits on customer occupancy.
As well, they asked for emergency paid sick leave at the provincial level to supplement existing federal supports.
Finally, schools should be temporarily moved online in areas where there are outbreaks or the healthcare system is having trouble managing.
We are not dealing with the same virus that we started out with a year ago. The risk of ICU admission is 2 times higher and the risk of death is 1.5 times higher for the B.1.1.7 variant (UK).
The virus has changed, and so must our behaviours. (2/5)
— Dr. Vera Etches (@VeraEtches) April 5, 2021
The current third wave is being driven by variants of concern, according to the province’s latest modelling. The epidemiological data suggests people infected with the B.1.1.7. (UK) variant are twice as likely to be admitted to the ICU and 1.5 times more likely to die compared to those infected with the original COVID-19 strain.
Ontario reported 2,938 new COVID-19 cases on Monday, bringing the total number of cases since the pandemic began to 364,537.