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Toronto’s top doctor says reopening should be slow with schools open and variants circulating.

Posted in Canada, Featured

Published on February 17, 2021 with No Comments

‘We should slow things down,’ Dr. Eileen de Villa says as reopening decision looms.

Dr. Eileen de Villa says Toronto should take a cautious approach when it comes to reopening due to the “increasing presence” of coronavirus variants of concerns and the reopening of schools.

A stay-at-home order remains in place in the city, although schools reopened this week. The emergency order is set to continue until at least Feb. 22, and de Villa told CBC Radio’s Metro Morning the city shouldn’t rush to make reopening decision until it gets a better grip on the evolving situation.

“We should slow things down,” she said.

Toronto continues to see the highest levels of new infections anywhere in Ontario, though there are some positive signs. For example, recoveries from the illness outpaced new infections on Tuesday and the number of daily active cases has gone steadily down from January’s peak.

“We are seeing declining rates as of late,” de Villa said, attributing that success to the public’s efforts.

Still, more than 300 are in hospital while at least 80 of those people are in intensive care units. The average test positivity rate for the last week remains at 5.5 per cent. Toronto Public Health also continues to struggle with contact tracing. Just 12 per cent of newly-reported confirmed cases are reached within 24 hours. 

De Villa and other city officials are set to hold a 2 p.m. ET news conference to provide more information about the pandemic.

Dr. Peter Lin echoed de Villa’s concerns around reopening, noting that as people begin moving around again they’ll be moving the virus, too.

Right now, Lin said, there’s still a lot of virus floating around, or, more specifically, reproducing inside peoples’ noses.

“There’s tonnes of virus out there, that’s the problem,” he said.

Add to that variants of concern — most prominently the B117 variant first discovered in the U.K. — and people letting their guard down, and the conditions are there for a third wave of the pandemic, Lin said. 

Vaccines, Lin said, won’t arrive fast enough to guard against this potential influx of cases.

Lin also noted young, healthy people are often the ones contracting the virus (Toronto Public Health data shows 1 in 5 people testing positive for COVID-19 are in their 20s) and they will likely be among the last to be vaccinated.

 

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