Premier Doug Ford has warned he is ready to impose new restrictions based on modeling, but no announcement is expected until Tuesday, government sources say. Although projections from Ontario science advisers were presented to Cabinet on Friday, the information is not expected to be released until Tuesday.
Several sources who have seen the model tell CBC News that she understands:
- forecast puts province on track to report an average of 6,000 new COVID-19 cases per day by the end of January;
- survey data indicating a large proportion of Ontarians are not following basic public health guidelines to slow the spread of COVID-19; and
- mobility data showing a spike in movement of Ontarians in the days just before Christmas, when the government imposed what it described as a province-wide lockdown, starting on Boxing Day .
“Modeling paints a very grim picture both in terms of daily cases and the impact on hospitals,” a senior government official told CBC News on Sunday.
“We’re in dire straits and when you see the modeling you’ll fall off your chair,” Ford said Friday at a press conference filled with dire warnings about what Ontario is facing as a result of COVID- 19.
“We’re in a crisis, that’s how I can describe it, it’s scary,” Ford said. “This is the most serious situation we have been in, ever, ever, since the start of this pandemic. ”
Despite Ford’s claims, new modeling doesn’t show trends drastically different from Ontario’s COVID-19 science table previously warned would occur with the pandemic in January, according to two sources who saw the material.
Cabinet is due to meet on Monday to decide what measures to impose, a government source told CBC News.
“Everything is on the table,” Ford has said repeatedly in recent days.
Sources say options include considering a curfew designed to prevent people from congregating with others outside of their own homes, as well as further closures of businesses and workplaces non-essential.
However, government officials say the Cabinet only had a broad discussion of possible measures and did not decide what restrictions to impose.
“We do not have many tools left in the toolbox,” admitted the senior government official.
On December 21, the Ford government announced what it described as a province-wide lockdown that would take effect on Boxing Day. The measures included restricting most stores other than grocery stores and drugstores to curbside pickup only, and restricting restaurants and bars to take-out and delivery.
Mobility data will raise questions about the government’s decision not to impose stricter restrictions sooner, as the growth of new cases started to increase in late December.
In the two weeks leading up to Christmas, the average daily number of new cases in the province increased at a rate of less than 2% per day.
But over the past two weeks, the pace has picked up much faster, increasing by about 3.4% per day.
If the growth of new cases continues at this rate, Ontario is on track to reach an average of more than 6,000 cases per day by the end of January.
Modeling released in mid-December predicted that Ontario would have about 400 COVID-19 patients in intensive care by January if cases increased at a rate of 3% per day. ICUs hit that target on Saturday, according to a report from Critical Care Services Ontario, a provincial health agency.
According to sources who have seen the new modeling, it projects nearly 800 coronavirus patients in ICUs in early February if the daily growth of cases is 3%, and nearly 1,000 in intensive care if cases increase by 5% per day. .
Either way, Ontario hospitals are at risk of having more intensive care patients than they can currently treat.
Aside from the effects of COVID-19, health officials say Ontario typically has a baseline of around 1,200 intensive care patients at a time simply due to daily health emergencies, heart attacks and from strokes to car accidents or organ failures.
The province has a total capacity of about 2,000 intensive care patients, limited not only by the number of beds, but also by the availability of doctors, nurses and other health workers trained in intensive care.
Ford tweeted on Sunday that Ontario’s healthcare system “is about to be overwhelmed.”
My friends, we are going to see some real turbulent waters over the next few months. Our health care system is on the verge of being overwhelmed and we must take all necessary precautions to ensure the safety of our most vulnerable.
The lives of others are in your hands. pic.twitter.com/HmFLDPY9P6
The information presented to the cabinet on the potential effect of a coronavirus variant first reported in the UK is based on research by Queen’s University mathematician Troy Day.
The new variant spreads easier and faster than the original version of the virus, according to a report from researchers at Imperial College London released on December 31, but it is not believed to be more deadly.
Day’s research shows, based on evidence of how the virus is currently spreading in Britain, that Ontario could, by the end of February, see the total number of new daily cases double in just 10 at 15 days, twice as fast as the recent growth rate.
“It would be a really horrible situation,” Day said in an interview with CBC News.
Survey data shows that a “worrying” proportion of people are not following public health guidelines in their personal behavior, the government official said, adding that the data likely underestimates the true level of non-compliance. conformity.
CBC reported in October that the government planned to conduct such surveys of public health behavior.