Toronto opens emergency operations centre in response to coronavirus pandemic
With the 2019 novel coronavirus now officially classified as a global pandemic, government bodies all over the world are stepping up their prevention and response protocols.
The City of Toronto just announced that it has activated a "city-wide COVID-19 task force" as it moves into "the next phase in pandemic and response planning activities" related to the outbreak, which originated in Wuhan, China late last year.
Comprised of key managers from all city divisions and agencies, the task force is currently planning responses to challenges that could arise as a result of COVID-19 in Toronto — things related to global supply chain issues, the local economy, outbreaks within vulnerable populations and the ability to deliver core services despite high staff absenteeism.
Do we still have to go to work? Let me know before noon.— EJay Stuart (@EJay_Stuart) March 12, 2020
An Emergency Operations Centre helmed by Toronto Fire Chief Matthew Pegg is now operating at a Level One, according to a press release issued by the city on Thursday.
This means that dedicated responders are "monitoring the current situation, locally and globally, and coordinating internal efforts at the City to ensure it continues to meet the needs of residents and businesses should the activation level change."
Toronto's Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Eileen de Villa, continues to lead public health efforts aimed at mitigating the deadly virus's impact, as she has been doing since January, when the city's first confirmed case of coronavirus was identified.
Our team has been working alongside Toronto Public Health on #COVID19 since mid-January. Robust, scalable and nimble response planning continues. I am honoured to work alongside Dr de Villa in leading the City’s planning & response. @TorontoOEM is supporting this important work. pic.twitter.com/GsMVdTzhbk— Matthew Pegg (@ChiefPeggTFS) March 12, 2020
"My team is carefully monitoring this evolving situation and we continue to expand our public health operations to plan for local spread, which we expect will eventually occur," said de Villa on Thursday morning.
"We all have a role to play in managing this situation and delaying community spread as long as possible. This is why I continue to remind Toronto residents to practice vigilant hand washing and other preventive measures as these are important ways for you to do your part in delaying the onset of community spread of COVID-19."
Toronto Mayor John Tory reiterated the importance of working together to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19.
"I will continue to ensure that our municipal government works effectively with the Government of Ontario and the Government of Canada to provide a coordinated response that protects residents and businesses and that we are united in addressing any economic implications," he said in a statement on Thursday.
In response to #COVID19, we have activated the City’s emergency operations centre. We have a dedicated task force (reps from every city division/agency) operating daily. @TorontoOEM @cityoftoronto @bradrossTO pic.twitter.com/MRxcnMmBtb— Matthew Pegg (@ChiefPeggTFS) March 12, 2020
The City of Toronto is currently monitoring 19 cases of COVID-19 and maintains on its website that the virus "is not circulating locally."
This could change as public health officials conduct a detailed investigation of a Sudbury man who tested positive for the virus after attending a large mining conference in downtown Toronto last week.
As of March 11, the World Health Organization is reporting a total of 118,322 positive COVID-19 cases globally.
Nearly 4,300 people have now died as a result of contracting the virus with 1,130 deaths confirmed across 113 countries outside of China to date.
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