Ontario Hospital Association calls for 4-week ‘tightly enforced’ lockdown for red zone areas

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TORONTO – The Ontario Hospital Association (OHA) calls on the provincial government to implement and enforce a four-week lockdown in every public health unit placed, or considered to be placed, in the “red zone” Of the COVID-19 framework.
In a statement released Thursday morning, the association called for “immediate action” as the number of infections and daily hospitalizations linked to the new coronavirus continues to increase.

“An increasing number of hospitals are grappling with epidemics, and many have already had to cancel scheduled surgeries and other activities. Ontario health professionals are being asked to carry a very heavy burden, ”said the OHA.

“The situation is extremely serious. Now is the holiday season and if members of the public choose to ignore public health measures and congregate outside their homes, the consequences could overwhelm Ontario hospitals. Every health system has its breaking point. ”

For the third day in a row, Ontario recorded more than 2,000 new cases of COVID-19 in a 24-hour period. The provincial death toll from the disease also exceeded 4,000 this week.

Due to the growing number of infections, the OHA recommends that at a minimum the Ontario government implement a four-week lockdown in every public health unit with an infection rate of 40 per 100,000 people or more. They also demand that the lockdown be “rigorously” applied.

“This is in line with the criteria set out in the government’s COVID-19 response framework, and is necessary to protect the health and safety of the people of Ontario and to ensure hospitals are not confronted with to a devastating outbreak of COVID-19 patients requiring hospitalization and intensive care in January. ”

Under the province’s current framework, areas with a weekly incidence rate of more than 40 people per 100,000 people are placed in the “red” zone, the last category before a full lockdown. Public events and social gatherings are limited to five people indoors and 25 people outdoors and establishments such as restaurants and gyms are allowed to remain open for in-person meals with strict capacity limits .

As of Thursday, six public health units are in the “red zone,” including Durham, Halton, Hamilton, Middlesex-London, Simcoe-Muskoka and Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph.

According to Wednesday’s provincial epidemiology report, there are 10 other public health units reporting a weekly incidence rate of more than 40 people per 100,000 people, using the week of December 6 to December 12 as a benchmark.

Toronto, Region of Peel, Region of York and Windsor-Essex are the only areas currently under lockdown or in the “gray” zone.

“This expanded lockdown would provide the Ontario government with a valuable opportunity to reset and recalibrate elements of its response to ensure that we are able to gradually reopen safely,” the OHA said.

“To be successful, all levels of government must work together to provide essential financial supports to businesses being asked to make sacrifices due to the foreclosure, and programs such as paid sick leave and isolated housing for people. people with COVID-19 who do not have it. the financial means to avoid working outside the home. ”

The OHA is also asking that the “gray” area under the province be “promptly reassessed” by independent experts in public health and epidemiology “to determine if additional, more stringent provisions are needed.”

Toronto officials said they were already in talks with the province about implementing stricter and broader lockdowns during the holidays in an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19 in the city, but none detail was not provided on what this would do. look like.

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