Three medical officers of health have issued an open letter calling on the province to re-implement a stay-at-home order, close all non-essential businesses and restrict travel between regions in Ontario.
On April 4, the medical officers of health for Toronto, Peel (Brampton, Mississauga and Caledon) and Ottawa asked Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. David Williams, to recommend more stringent public health measures amid a rise in COVID-19 cases and ICU admissions.
The letter was released shortly before Peel Medical Officer of Health Dr. Lawrence Loh issued a Section 22 order mandating the immediate closure of all schools in the region for at least two weeks. Students in Peel will learn remotely from April 6 until at least April 18.
I am asking each and every one of you to help us get this virus under control.
Mask up. Keep your distance. #StayHome
We have come too far, Ottawa. (5/5) pic.twitter.com/NRvqNKdbYi
— Dr. Vera Etches (@VeraEtches) April 5, 2021
“Both Peel and Toronto have seen rapid case growth while placed in the Grey-Lockdown category of the COVID-19 response framework, highlight the need for stronger public health measures,” the doctors wrote, adding that the third wave is being driven by variants of concern (such as new strains detected in the UK, South Africa and Brazil) and that younger people are being hospitalized with more severe illness.
The letter says that with the B.1.1.7 variant, the risk of ICU admission is two times higher and the risk of death is 1.5 times higher.
The letter asks Williams to issue a province-wide stay-at-home order, close non-essential businesses (and be stricter about which businesses quality as “essential”), mandate staffing limits where possible, set strict capacity limits in open businesses, restrict people from travelling within Ontario, offer paid sick days to essential workers and move schools online in hard-hit areas.
The doctors also called on the province to secure more vaccines for Ontario and direct shots to people most in need.
The province logged 2,938 new cases of the novel coronavirus today (April 5) and 3,041 cases on Sunday (April 4), as data sharing was paused for the Easter Sunday holiday.
Ten deaths were linked to the virus on today’s report and 12 on Sunday’s update from the province.
Health Minister Christine Elliott said that today (April 5), there are 906 new cases in Toronto, 533 in Peel, 391 in York Region, 230 in Ottawa and 140 in Durham.
There are 942 people hospitalized with the virus in Ontario, but the Ministry of Health notes that 10 per cent of Ontario’s hospitals do not submit data on weekends.
Ontario also reports 494 patients in intensive care because of COVID-19 and 293 on a ventilator.
With files from The Canadian Press