December 31st, 2020

// Ontario’s doctors urge continued vigilance, long-term planning on anniversary of first CO

Ontario's doctors urge continued vigilance, long-term planning on anniversary of first COVID-19 reports from China

TORONTO, Dec. 31, 2020 /CNW/ - One year ago today, the first reports emerged from China that a cluster of cases of pneumonia of "unknown origin" were being treated in Wuhan City in the centre of the country. 

Within days came confirmation that people were becoming seriously ill from this new SARS-like virus that was spreading rapidly around the world. The first case of what would become known as COVID-19 was confirmed in Ontario on Jan. 25, 2020. 

The World Health Organization declared a pandemic on March 11, 2020, and there is no indication when it will be lifted. In Ontario, COVID-19 cases are rising to record levels after 150,000 people have already been infected and almost 4,100 have died.

The new year promises vaccines for many people. But Ontario's doctors say that until they are widely available, the only way to control the pandemic is to follow public health guidelines: stay home, celebrate or gather socially only with members of your household, stay at least two metres away from others when outside your home, wear a mask and wash your hands frequently.

"It's amazing what can change in a year" said Dr. Samantha Hill, president of the Ontario Medical Association. "In a year, we have gone from a mysterious illness in a faraway land that wasn't transmissible between people, to the singularly biggest medical event many of us will ever experience, world-wide.  There were and are very real and ongoing tragedies: hundreds of thousands dead, worldwide economic disruption and more. 

"But I choose to focus on the hope: the way people came together to protect and support each other; the way the scientific world collaboratively created, researched and released novel vaccines; the way technology allowed us to connect with each other in unprecedented ways, allowed people to work from home, allowed medical care to be accessed without risk of contagion.  

"In another year, if all goes well, residents of Ontario, and Canada will be vaccinated, but I don't think we will ever go back to the old normal, nor should we.  Imagine where we can be in a year if we continue to push technology and science, with a lens on benefitting all.  Imagine what we could accomplish for the mental health epidemic, the climate crisis, for equity, diversity and inclusion.  Imagine. ‚Ķ  And then let's make it happen.  Let's make the pain of 2020 power the future we want.  Together, we can do it."

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.

"Ontario's doctors will continue to work with Premier Doug Ford and all health-care partners to help stop the spread of this pandemic and vaccinate the people of Ontario safely and efficiently," said OMA CEO Allan O'Dette. "Taking care of our health and health-care system is the fastest way to get our economy back on track."

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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