Premier Doug Ford has warned Ontario residents to be ready for another probable lockdown as the province is considering all measures to cope with an increase of third-wave infections.
The premier made the comments during a press conference on Tuesday, saying that he is “extremely” worried about the direction Ontario is heading.
“I’m extremely concerned with the situation that we’re seeing and the numbers going up,” he told reporters. “Everything is on the table right now, so folks, be prepared. I’m asking you don’t make plans for Easter.”
“I won’t hesitate to lock things down if we have to. I did it before I’ll do it again.”
The Ford administration has been criticized by both politicians and health experts for not taking instant measures and for not rolling back economy reopening plans to slow the spread of the disease and halt the third wave.
This past week, the government lifted restrictions in regions, including Toronto and Peel, which are in the grey-lockdown zone of the provinces reopening framework, to permit outdoor fitness sessions.
Personal care services are additionally planned to reopen on April 12.
Ford told reporters on Tuesday his moves have been based on the advice from Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams, as well as that from local health experts.
With the advice of health practitioners, the Premier said his administration chose to begin slowly bringing the region out of the stay-at-home order and into the reopening framework in February.
“We were hitting 1,000 cases, things were looking a little rosy, and I took the advice from the chief medical officer,” he said. I will continue to take the advice. I won’t hesitate, believe me, to lock things down so we can protect the ICU capacities of the hospitals.”
“Nothing is more important than our health.”
He said that local medical officers of health can advise and enforce an “emergency brake” to shift their region into a stricter segment of the province’s framework and target transmission risks in the community.
“Everyone was on the same page,” he said. “Make no mistake, we have to be cautious, and that’s why we have the emergency break available.”
Engaging the emergency brake renders all non-essential businesses non-operational.
Health officials in the province reported over 2,300 new COVID-19 infections on Tuesday, marking the 6th consecutive day in which case numbers have stayed over the 2,000 marks.
Anthony Dale, the chairperson of the Ontario Hospital Association, is cautioning that hospitals in the region could face an increase in patient transfers and canceled surgeries due to the third wave.
On Tuesday, Ontario reported its highest number of COVID-19 related hospitalizations since early Feb. At the moment, there are about 1,100 patients in hospital due to COVID-19, with 387 being treated in ICU.