At a November 9 conference, Dr. Lawrence Loh, Medical Officer of Health, Region of Peel, Peel Regional Chair Nando Iannicca and Dr. Naveed Mohammad, President and CEO of William Osler Health System discussed new COVID-19 restrictions in the Region of Peel as well as the recently announced Letter of Instructions.
According to Mohammad, there are currently 55 COVID-19 patients at William Osler’s two hospitals and nine of those patients are receiving care in the intensive care unit. To date, over 20 patients have also been transferred to other hospitals.
“We are working with the Ministry of Health and Ontario health and partner hospitals to ensure safe transfers and seamless continuation of care for our patients to ensure sufficient capacity,” said Mohammad, adding that they’ve had to postpone some elective surgeries.
Dr. Mohammad added that the new restrictions mandated by the region are critical to helping reduce the spread of COVID-19.
“Following these directives will help to ensure that fewer people acquire the virus, fewer people become ill and require hospitalization,” said Mohammad.
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“The health and safety of this community and our patients is our highest priority,” he concluded, adding that case counts and positivity rates are at an all-time high.
During Dr. Loh’s announcement, he confirmed that Peel’s healthcare system is at capacity and discussed the details of the additional measures that are being implemented in the region.
“As we moved to the ‘red-control’ stage this past Saturday, we were able to identify additional measures to target key drivers of COVID-19 transmission within our community,” said Loh.
“The picture that we are seeing in Peel is increasingly dire. Our cases are continuing to rise and the contact tracing capacity that we developed and improved throughout the summer is increasingly challenged.”
According to Loh, as the second wave of COVID-19 continues, they are starting to see hospitals being overwhelmed.
“As the second wave continues, we’re starting to see not only our local hospitals at risk of being overwhelmed as they navigate this surge of COVID-19 patients, but also the regular volume of care as they start the flu season,” said Loh.
“Peel Public Health is receiving contact tracing support from across the province and our hospitals are transferring patients all over Ontario. That means that our public health and health care system in Peel is at capacity; beyond capacity,” he said, adding that additional action must be taken to get COVID-19 “under control.”
According to Dr. Loh, wedding receptions and gatherings in business establishments will not be allowed effective Friday, November 13, 2020, through at least January 7, 2021.
The public is also discouraged from attending weddings outside of the region.
Social gatherings for holidays and life events excluding wedding receptions and gatherings in business establishments will not be allowed starting from Friday, November 13 until its next reassessment in 14 days.
Loh also encouraged workplaces to allow employees to work from home as much as possible and advised against group instruction at gyms and fitness centres.
“While we cannot force you to take these additional steps that I’m about to outline, I know you will do what is right for you, your family and your community to prevent us from moving further in the provincial framework into the lockdown stage,” said Loh.
“I ask that you limit contact to members of your immediate household and essential supports only. Those that live alone may join one designated home and stay exclusive to that home.”
Loh also advised avoiding visits to other people’s homes with some exceptions for emergencies, renovations or on-site learning that should occur with precautions.
“I ask that you limit all in-person activities to essential activities only. This includes work, school, exercise and fitness, access to health care and the purchase of necessities.”
Additionally, Loh strongly encouraged the consideration for an upper limit of 50 people total on top of the province’s 30% capacity limit for religious services and ceremonies.
“What we need in Peel now is to stop the spread of COVID-19 in the community and to prevent further hospitalizations from overwhelming hospitals,” said Loh, who concluded by asking the public to adhere to these restrictions for the next two to four weeks.