toronto covid

Toronto health official says we're living through one of the worst parts of the pandemic

As COVID case rates and ICU admissions in Toronto continue to spin out of control amid Ontario's worsening third wave of COVID-19, Toronto's top doctor is warning residents that we are living through one of the worst parts of the pandemic — and now is not the time for complacency.

Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa made the remarks during the city's press briefing Monday afternoon, in which she reported 1,296 new cases and five more deaths and said 632 people are in hospital while 108 are in ICUs.

"These numbers speak for themselves today," she said. "I will only add that when the Hospital for Sick Children is providing ICU care to adults, you know you're living through one of the worst periods of the pandemic."

De Villa's comments come after her presentation at Toronto's Board of Health meeting this morning in which she explained that the city's seven-day average for COVID cases has jumped 116 per cent in three weeks (931 from 432) and that we're on track to see 2,500 daily cases with the current transmission levels.

During the second wave, the highest daily case number reported was 1,642.

"What we are seeing is the explosive exponential growth described by me and many of my peers when the variants first arrived in Toronto," she said Monday. "The old COVID-19 virus is being bulldozed by the B.1.1.7 variant, with the other two primary variants present in Toronto as well."

As a result, she urged people to continue practicing self-protection measures despite understandable COVID-19 fatigue, and she also encouraged everyone to get vaccinated as soon as their turn comes.

"Every time the virus spreads from one person to another, the virus has an opportunity to mutate, even to create a new variant that could create a whole new set of variants," de Villa said.

"Everybody needs to do two things in the days ahead: We need to stay home and apart from each other until the tide turns, and we need to get vaccinated as soon as possible. If we mix right now, we're adding risk upon risk. If we stay apart, we will, with patience and diligence, reduce risk."

The doctor pointed to the 1918 flu as proof that pandemics do eventually run their course and end, adding that we have advanced scientific and medical knowledge today as well as more information and ways to share it instantly that people did not have back then. 

But while we do have advanced tools and knowledge on our side, de Villa said it is also up to the individual to make responsible and safe decisions until the majority of the population can be vaccinated.

"We have a world of advantages that will help bring the COVID-19 pandemic to an end, and we have ourselves, able to do things in daily life to bring it to an end even faster," she said.

"COVID-19 has produced one challenge after another, but we live in a time when we have never been better positioned to meet those challenges and ultimately overcome them."

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