Toronto could return to lockdown when ‘inevitable’ second wave hits, officials warn


TORONTO – Toronto’s top public health official has said there is no doubt there will be a resurgence of COVID-19 in the fall and everything will be on the table, including another lockdown, when it comes to limiting the spread of the disease. Dr. Eileen de Villa made the comment at City Hall Monday afternoon as she detailed efforts by Toronto Public Health to prepare for a second wave.

She said that while “there is no way of knowing exactly what will happen” in the coming months, but experiences from other jurisdictions suggest that a “resurgence in Toronto is inevitable.”

In fact, cases may already be climbing. Earlier this month, the seven-day moving average of new cases in Toronto hit a recent low of 15.9, but since then it has been steadily rising and now stands at 35.

“We need to find a way to live with COVID-19 in our city. It is not a question of whether we will see more viruses; in Toronto, it’s a question of when, ”Villa warned on Monday.

De Villa said as part of plans to limit any second wave, Toronto Public Health will deploy “community outreach rapid response teams” to parts of the city where higher levels of infections have been. observed. She said staff were also working with provincial government officials to support more pop-up testing sites in those neighborhoods.

Toronto Pubic Health will also continue to have more than 700 employees working on COVID-19 contract tracing and case management.

De Villa said discussions with the federal government to create an isolation center for COVID-19 patients who cannot safely self-isolate at home are also underway.

“I think we need to consider whatever is needed to better protect residents of Toronto,” de Villa said in response to a question about the possibility of shutting down businesses again if cases soared this fall. “We certainly hope it doesn’t come to that, but I think we need to follow the best available evidence and that includes what we have learned from our own experience and we know there needs to be a series of public health measures. to bring the virus to spread under control. ”

The city is ready to suspend some services again if necessary

City manager Chris Murray told reporters at Monday’s briefing that the city has already conducted a review of its response to the first wave of COVID-19 to identify what was working well and what was not.

He said there are now several administrative bodies “designed specifically to centralize decision-making,” including a strategic command table that meets weekly and a personal protective equipment (PPE) working group.

Looking ahead, Murray said the city will continue to provide essential and critical services “in any scenario,” but retain the ability to temporarily scale back or suspend other services if challenges posed by COVID-19 deserve it.

Murray said the city would also be ready to immediately return to operating free emergency child care centers for essential workers if licensed child care centers were to close again.

“The city is ready to be nimble and to act quickly,” he said.

Murray said civic centers, city hall and Metro Hall in Toronto would remain closed to the public for the time being, with the city’s building occupancy rate capped at 30% to reduce the risk of the spread of the virus. virus.


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