coronavirus toronto

Toronto emergency operations centre now operating at its highest level in history

With more than 100 cases of the 2019 novel coronavirus now confirmed in Toronto, city officials are putting their all into fighting the global pandemic and protecting the health of citizens.

Toronto Fire Chief and newly-minted head of the city's emergency operations centre announced on Tuesday night that his COVID-19 task force is now operating at a level 3 — the highest level possible under the city's own emergency plan

"This is the highest level of EOC activation," wrote Pegg on Twitter. "Our EOC and COVID-19 Task Force are fully engaged in managing the pandemic in Toronto."

This marks the first time ever that Toronto's emergency operations centre has been operating at a level 3, according to CP24.

The designation, which in city documents is said to connote a "major emergency," is normally reserved for natural disasters.

Pegg said that the decision to increase the level of activation was spurred by the Ontario government declaring a state of emergency on Tuesday morning.

"Once the Province of Ontario declared an emergency, we automatically move to level 3," explained Pegg on Twitter Tuesday night. 

"This deploys some additional resources into the EOC in support of city-wise coordination. We are well managed/resourced and are operating effectively."

Among these resources, says Pegg, are measures related to "emergency policy and strategic direction, consequence and resource management, coordination of the emergency and divisional operations centres, external agencies and the provincial Emergency Operations Centre, public information and news media support, and business continuity."

The centre, which activated an official COVID-19 task force on March 12, was initially operating at a Level 1 but upped the activation within days in order to access further resources as the outbreak intensified locally.

Since that time, the City of Toronto has effectively shut down all non-essential city services as Toronto Public Health recommends that everyone, regardless of their symptoms, stay at home if possible.

Thousands of office buildings, bars, dine-in restaurantsretailers, tourist attractions, movie theatres, stadiums and public facilities across the province are now closed in light of the global pandemic.

Gatherings of more than 50 people are currently prohibited in Ontario and anyone with even mild respiratory symptoms is currently forbidden from flying into Canada.

As of Wednesday morning, 108 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Toronto. Four people have recovered from their illnesse to date, but case numbers continue to accelerate, according to Toronto's top health officials, now include local transmission.

"This increase of COVID-19 cases locally and within Canada is why you have seen all three levels of government implement unprecedented public health measures to require social distancing," said Toronto Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa during her daily media update on Tuesday. 

"Social distancing is an effective way to slow infectious disease transmission. However, we won't see the effects immediately and we also know that we should expect to see continued increases in our case counts."

Ontario-wide, a total of 189 cases had been confirmed as of Tuesday night. Canada has now confirmed 526 cases of the coronavirus, while the World Health Organization's latest situation report puts the global case total at 179,111.

More than 7,426 people have now died as a result of the pandemic, according to the WHO, 68 of them within the Americas.

Lead photo by

Matthew Pegg

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