By Caribbean News Global
TORONTO, Canada — Additional measures are needed to protect health system capacity and save lives during the third wave of COVID-19, said the Ontario government, to the announcement effective as of Thursday, April 8, 2021, at 12:01 a.m., “the government is issuing a province-wide Stay-at-Home order requiring everyone to remain at home except for essential purposes, such as going to the grocery store or pharmacy, accessing health care services (including getting vaccinated), for outdoor exercise, or for work that cannot be done remotely.”
The Ontario government declared at a much-anticipated press conference today, the new measure is “in consultation with the chief medical officer of health and other health experts, is immediately declaring a third provincial emergency under s 7.0.1 (1) of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMPCA). These measures are being taken in response to the rapid increase in COVID-19 transmission, the threat on the province’s hospital system capacity, and the increasing risks posed to the public by COVID-19 variant.”
Details were provided by premier Doug Ford, Christine Elliott, deputy premier and minister of health, solicitor general Sylvia Jones, and Dr David Williams, chief medical officer of health.
“The COVID-19 situation is at a critical stage and we must act quickly and decisively to stay ahead of these deadly new variants,” said Premier Ford. “By imposing these strict new measures we will keep people safe while allowing our vaccination program to reach more people, starting with our high-risk population and identified hot spots. Although this is difficult, I urge everyone to follow these public health measures and together we will defeat this deadly virus.”
The resulting decision preceded case rates, hospitalizations, and ICU occupancy are increasing rapidly, threatening to overwhelm the health care system. The number of COVID-19 hospitalizations in the province have increased by 28.2 percent between the period of March 28 and April 5, 2021. In addition, between March 28 and April 5, 2021, Ontario has seen the number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care escalate by 25 per cent. While every action possible is being taken to increase capacity and continue daily surgeries and procedures, the province is reaching a tipping point.
“As Ontario’s health care capacity is threatened, the Stay-at-Home order, and other new and existing public health and workplace safety measures will work to preserve public health system capacity, safeguard vulnerable populations, allow for progress to be made with vaccinations and save lives,” the Ontario government said in a press release.
In addition, the province is also strengthening public health and workplace safety measures for non-essential retail under the provincewide emergency brake.
“While our government took decisive action by implementing the provincewide emergency brake, more needs to be done to protect against the threats to our health system resources and the continued health and safety of individuals and families across the province,” said Christine Elliott, deputy premier and minister of health. “By further strengthening public health and workplace safety measures, we can work to reduce transmission of the virus while we work to roll out Phase 2 of our vaccine distribution plan, and put more needles in the arms of Ontarians.”
To support this expanded vaccination effort, mobile teams are being organized to administer vaccines in high-risk congregate settings, residential buildings, faith-based locations, and locations occupied by large employers in hot spot neighbourhoods to individuals aged 18 or over. Pop-up clinics will also be set up in highly impacted neighborhoods, including at faith-based locations and community centres in those hot spots, in collaboration with public health units and community organizations within those communities. The province will provide additional resources to support these mobile and pop-up clinics in the hardest-hit neighbourhoods.
The government will also extend booking for COVID-19 vaccination appointments to more age groups through its provincial booking system, for public health regions with highly impacted neighbourhoods, on Friday, April 9, 2021. Booking eligibility will be extended to include individuals aged 50 and over for COVID-19 vaccination appointments at mass immunization clinics in high-risk areas as identified by postal code, using the provincial booking system.
“As we continue to see COVID-19 variants of concern drive this third wave of COVID-19, it is evident stronger public health and workplace measures are needed to help interrupt the spread of the virus,” said Dr David Williams, chief medical officer of health. “By all of us staying at home, while still taking some time to enjoy the outdoors with the people we live within our local neighbourhoods and maintaining two metres physical distance from others, we can reduce our mobility, minimize transmission, protect our loved ones and our communities, safeguard health system capacity, and save lives.”