Officials say more restrictions are needed in Toronto as third wave spirals
Just one day before Premier Doug Ford is expected to announce new potential lockdown measures for Ontario in the midst of what has been described as an out-of-control third wave, Toronto's top doctor confirmed that additional restrictions are definitely needed to combat the situation here in the city, as well as in other regions.
Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa said Wednesday that conversations are ongoing with the province about what these restrictions could look like, adding that the serious situation Toronto is facing extends far beyond the boundaries of the city and goes across the province.
"I don't think that this is a simple situation," said de Villa during a City of Toronto press briefing Wednesday afternoon.
"It's one that no one single jurisdiction can manage on its own, and I think the seriousness of the circumstances requires actions that are commensurate with that. And I think we're talking about actions that can be made to work, that reduce harm, that reduce risk and keep people as safe as possible."
Speaking during the press conference, de Villa reported 883 new cases of COVID-19, 29 new hospital admissions and seven new deaths.
She said the number of cases that have screened positive as variants of concern is now 8,570 — an increase of more than 800 since Monday.
"If the current situation is described as a race, the variants are ahead by a mile," she said.
And with Easter just days away, de Villa once again emphasized that now is not the time to gather.
Faith-based organizations: with spring holidays underway, here are some ways you can safely hold religious services, rites & ceremonies, & help stop #COVID19 spread & keep everyone safe. Learn more: https://t.co/Ibja58TVF6 pic.twitter.com/RQ6eDkcHbe— Toronto Public Health (@TOPublicHealth) March 31, 2021
"The religious holidays to be celebrated over the next couple of weeks create tempting opportunities to come together, but this is a dangerous time when you look at the rapid growth in case counts," she said. "If you gather as usual, you are taking a great risk. It is just an invitation to COVID-19 variants to spread."
Health experts have been sounding the alarm about Ontario's worsening third wave for weeks now, but Ford has continued to make changes to the response framework in favour of lifting restrictions as cases have risen all the while.
Both outdoor dining and outdoor fitness are now permitted in even the strictest, grey-lockdown stage of the framework, and Ford recently announced that personal care services would be able to reopen by appointment in grey zone regions come April 12.
Yesterday, however, Ford changed his tune and said "everything's on the table" when it comes to potential new restrictions, adding that wouldn't hesitate to "lock things down" again.
The provincial government is expected to discuss potential new restrictions at Queen's Park Wednesday afternoon, and an announcement on their decision is expected to be made ahead of the Easter Weekend on Thursday.
"There's no question we're in a very serious situation here," de Villa said. "We are in a delicate situation and it requires delicate work and I think a very serious approach to the risks that exist."
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