December 17th, 2020

// Ontario’s doctors call for wider lockdown to stop spread of COVID over holidays

Ontario's doctors call for wider lockdown to stop spread of COVID over holidays

TORONTO, Dec. 17, 2020 /CNW/ - Ontario's doctors are calling for a lockdown of the entire Greater Toronto and Hamilton area until after New Year's in an effort to stop the alarming rise in COVID cases that threaten to overwhelm hospitals and other health-care services.

If COVID numbers continue to rise, doctors say Premier Doug Ford should also extend the winter school break that begins Friday.

"We supported the government's decision to move Peel, Toronto, York and Windsor into lockdown, hoping that limiting restrictions to these hotspots would be sufficient," said Dr. Samantha Hill, president of the Ontario Medical Association. "But we're seeing a lot of transmission across regions. Some of it is because essential workers must go to their jobs in the health-care, transportation and food production industries. Unfortunately, some of it is also people crossing into areas with looser restrictions for non-essential reasons such as shopping, hair cuts and social visits."

Another record 2,432 confirmed cases of COVID were reported in Ontario today and the latest worst-case modelling says that number could rise to 10,000 a day in January. Hospitals are already preparing for a surge in cases over the holidays and doctors are worried about whether there will be enough resources to care for everybody.

Doctors working on the front lines of the pandemic appeal to all Ontarians to do their part to celebrate the holidays safely; this means staying home and only with members of their own households. The best way to stop the rise in COVID cases is to follow public health guidelines, including handwashing, wearing a mask and observing physical distancing, and to get vaccinated as soon as supplies become more widely available.

Doctors also recommend the government make the difficult decision to extend the winter break for students in regions that are in lockdown as another way to stop the spread of COVID. Keeping children in schools is important for their mental health and social development. But targeted testing in high-risk schools has found high levels of the virus. While many children may be asymptomatic, they are spreading the virus to others in the community who are getting sick, sometimes critically.

"This is not the holiday season any of us wanted or had hoped for," said OMA CEO Allan O'Dette. "Vaccines are on the way. But in the meantime, we all have a part to play in ending this pandemic so we can all return to work and school. Protecting our own health is the first step to restoring economic health."

Here are the top five things doctors recommend you can do to protect yourselves and others:

  • Wash your hands often. 
  • Wear a mask or face covering at all times, unless you are at home with housemates or outdoors at a guaranteed two metres' distance from others. 
  • Stay away from crowded places. 
  • Celebrate or gather only with members of your household. Don't invite others into your home. 
  • Prepare for contact tracing if you get COVID-19. Download the COVID Alert app and/or keep track of where you go and when.

About the OMA

The Ontario Medical Association represents Ontario's 43,000-plus physicians, medical students and retired physicians, advocating for and supporting doctors while strengthening the leadership role of doctors in caring for patients. Our vision is to be the trusted voice in transforming Ontario's health-care system.

SOURCE Ontario Medical Association


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