Bar and restaurant staff contribute 20% of COVID cases: Toronto’s best doc

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Indoor activities like dining out and going to bars contribute to about 20% of cases of community transmission of COVID-19, according to the Toronto medical officer of health.Dr Eileen de Villa said on Wednesday that cases of staff becoming infected in bars and restaurants are on the rise. However, the same cannot be said for infections transmitted by restaurant and bar staff to their customers.

De Villa added a location generated six cases – four in staff and two in clients. Another generated nine cases with seven staff and two clients. In one restaurant, four staff and a customer contracted COVID, she said.

“Our data tells us that people contract COVID-19 in part by socializing indoors without wearing a mask, by standing too close to each other and for too long,” she said.

“This especially happens when your guard is down… Our investigators also noticed that people come to work for the symptoms and work during the time they are contagious. I cannot stress enough that if you know you are sick, or could be sick, the first thing you should do is manage your symptoms and stay away from others as much as possible.

De Villa pleaded with employers to provide sick leave for workers who show symptoms and reminded people to wash their hands frequently and keep their distance.

She said her team was also following four different marriages which resulted in 22 infections.

“You can’t tell if someone has COVID-19 just by looking at them,” she says. “Just because they’re family, friends, or people you know well from work doesn’t mean they can’t infect you.”

De Villa said the city has lists of individuals who can identify contact of infection, relevant exposure periods.

“Those who are exposed to any kind of risk to public health are informed accordingly,” she said. “One of the steps in case management is segregation, which effectively eliminates risk to the public.”

Toronto reported 86 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday for a total of 17,028 cases. De Villa said 15,089 people have recovered and 20 people remain in hospital from the virus – seven of them are in intensive care.

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