Toronto, Peel health officials ask province to delay lifting COVID restrictions

Carla Harmon
February 20, 2021

Where are the COVID-19 cases in Ontario? "I am obligated to make that clear", de Villa said on Wednesday.

Both regions are set to enter the province's colour coded framework for restrictions on February 22.

"I will never waver from the medical officers' advice, nobody understands their area in Peel and Toronto more than the local medical officers of health and we're very concerned about the U-K variant, the South African variant and the Brazilian variant".

Ontario health officials are reporting just over 1,000 new cases of COVID-19 as the positivity rate in the province continues to dip amid increased testing. With uncertainty related to supply, it is unclear when the City and partners will be able to continue to vaccinate large portions of the population.

Learning from other jurisdictions shows VOC growth can be exponential without significant public health measures in place. "Holding the status quo for just one incubation period, 14 days, will allow us to better see where the variant trends go and review any impact that school reopening might have on community contacts and transmission", Dr. Lawrence Loh, Peel Region's Medical Officer of Health, said at a media briefing in Brampton on Wednesday morning. The province also said 27 tickets were issued last week to people accused of breaking public health orders - more than half of which were for not wearing a mask in an indoor public place.

Ford's government began gradually lifting the stay-at-home order for parts of the province last week, with restrictions being loosened for the majority of Ontario this week. Reopening in any degree influences public perception of risk and may give a false sense of security that the risk is no longer present.

Most of the province has already been moved onto the framework, which allows some retail shopping and, depending on the region, even haircuts and gym classes.

We recognize the importance of balancing economic recovery with protecting the health of the population.

A total of 518,834 doses of vaccine have been administered in Ontario so far. However, it is important to recognize the weariness the public is experiencing, particularly those who have been most impacted by COVID-19.

I'm not sure why, and I say that with a full understanding of where we are now and that there are fears of a possible third wave.

Elliott added that the province can deliver 40,000 doses a day and if need be, could quadruple capacity with no notice.

To that end, given the urgency of the situation, we are requesting to meet with you within the next day on Sunday, February 14th, 2021 to discuss this matter.

She said there are 56 cases with variants of concern - predominantly the one first identified in the United Kingdom - in Toronto, up from 33 a week ago.

Mayor John Tory says it's important that the lockdown we're now in "is the last one".

"Today's variant count is the tip of an iceberg", de Villa said.

"By the time the confirmed case counts are big enough to shock us it will be too late to do anything, we will be in a third wave as bad as anything we have been through thus far", de Villa said. More information to come.

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