TORONTO, April 1, 2021—The Ontario Medical Association and the Association of Local Public Health Agencies welcomed today’s announcement of a province-wide lockdown as a step in the right direction, but expressed concern it might not be enough to stop the spread of COVID-19.
The organizations representing the province’s physicians and medical officers of health acknowledged the heavy economic, social and mental health toll that a year of pandemic restrictions has taken on every Ontarian.
But despite everyone’s sacrifices, the numbers have taken a worrying turn for the worse and show no signs of improving without decisive action. More than 2,000 new cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed every day for the past week. Hospitalizations are up 14 per cent and almost as many people are in intensive care units as there were at the start of the pandemic. The new, more contagious variants of the virus are infecting younger people, who may suffer long-term health issues.
While a 28-day province-wide emergency brake shutdown is a good step, the two organizations urged the government to take additional steps. Otherwise, the strain on our health-care system will grow, impacting our ability to care for not just COVID patients, but all patients. This should be a time for optimism, looking forward to summer and the arrival of more vaccines, rather than a time for pessimism and fear that we are about to see the worst spread since last spring.
“I am relieved that the government has heeded the advice of our public health physicians, and I hope they will listen to the concerns they are raising today,” said OMA President Dr. Samantha Hill. “These diligent physicians are the experts in pandemic medicine and have guided us through the last year, bearing the brunt of each of these difficult decisions.”
Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, chair of the Council of Ontario Medical Officers of Health, a section of alPHa, said the provincial shutdown measures announced today were needed, given the growing case numbers and disease severity, rising ICU admissions and the infection patterns among younger populations.
“However, we strongly believe that a stay-at-home order is also required to successfully prevent further cases and strain on Ontario's acute care system as we continue to vaccinate more Ontarians,” he said.
“In the meantime, we cannot overemphasize the importance of limiting social contacts, maintaining physical distance, diligent mask wearing in situations where close contact may be unavoidable, and handwashing. These simple measures are critical to preventing cases and preserving our capacity to respond.”
Ontario Medical Association
The Ontario Medical Association represents Ontario’s 43,000-plus physicians, medical students and retired physicians, advocating for and supporting doctors while strengthening the leadership role of doctors in caring for patients. Our vision is to be the trusted voice in transforming Ontario’s health-care system.
Association of Local Public Health Agencies
The Association of Local Public Health Agencies (alPHa) is a not-for-profit organization that provides leadership to the boards of health and public health units in Ontario. alPHa advises and lends expertise to members on the governance, administration and management of health units. The Association also collaborates with governments and other health organizations, advocating for a strong, effective and efficient public health system in the province. Through policy analysis, discussion, collaboration, and advocacy, alPHa’s members and staff act to promote public health policies that form a strong foundation for the improvement of health promotion and protection, disease prevention and surveillance services in all of Ontario’s communities. For more information, please go to www.alphaweb.org