With the increase in COVID-19 cases, Niagara’s interim medical officer of health says he has no plans yet to ask the province to pull on its ’emergency brake’ triggering a lockdown because he is not convinced it would be effective.
Dr Mustafa Hirji said the emergency brake was used in Simcoe-Muskoka earlier this month, putting that region in a gray lockdown, but the province moved the area back to the least restrictive red level at exactly one level. week later.
“If this is what the emergency brake is going to do, I’m not sure it really does a lot of good and just causes a lot of economic hardship without a lot of health benefits,” Hirji said.
“If we were to get into an emergency brake, if things got out of hand, we would need a lockout for a few weeks. I think I would need to feel confident that this is really what’s going to happen, not in the short term, a few lockdown days which are probably more disruptive.
Hirji said he’s also not sure how effective a Niagara-only lockdown would be at this point.
He said if the province were to consider a lockdown, it should be up to the entire Golden Horseshoe to prevent people from moving from region to region.
Hirji said Niagara had seen, especially in the fall, lower cases than its surrounding area, but those cases eventually spread to the region.
“I really think the Golden Horseshoe should be treated as one unit just because there is so much movement of people between different parts of it,” Hirji said.
“If one part is locked and another isn’t, people just move on to the parts that aren’t locked and just spread the infection instead of controlling things.”
Hirji said when Peel and Toronto went into lockdowns in November, it really didn’t seem to be having an effect. The cases fell apart when everything locked around them.
Niagara has seen many people from the Greater Toronto Area to visit in its analysis of mobile phone data, and in recent weeks variations have spread across the region.
“That’s another reason I’m not sure if I put the emergency brake on here, because I’m not sure if that will really be enough to solve the problems. I think we probably need to put the emergency brake on all over the Golden Horseshoe. ”
Still, Hirji said he believes a third lockdown can be avoided if people minimize their social contact and time spent outside the home.
Small private gatherings of family members and friends from different households have been the main source of new COVID-19 cases in Niagara.
“We are seeing cases increase. I think there is a very real risk of a third wave and a third lockdown and I think the way we avoid it without a lockdown and to control it is that we all have to do our own thing on purpose. leaves to limit the spread of infection, ”he said.
“It almost means having the mentality of being locked out.”
Hirji said if people could do their part for a few more months and get things under control, maybe they could let their guard down a bit this summer.
“For the next eight weeks, I think we’re really in the danger zone where we really need to come together and make one last ditch effort to do whatever we can to willfully limit the spread of the infection.”