Canadians can expect to stay in self-isolation for the next three months, according to Toronto’s top doctor, Dr. Eileen de Villa.
Dr. de Villa made the statement on Wednesday, as she laid out a wide range of new recommendations to help limit the spread of COVID-19.
Toronto Mayor, John Tory, says those recommendations will amount to, “locking the city down as much as any municipal government possibly could,” according to CP24.
Dr. de Villa says that residents will have to remain at home and only leave their homes “for the most essential of needs” for the next 12 weeks amid a surging number of cases of coronavirus in the Toronto area that has placed the city on a frightening trajectory.
She recommends “in the strongest possible terms” that all Toronto residents remain at home, save for medical appointments and grocery shopping, no more than once a week, with the exception of walking a dog or to get exercise.
Under the Health Protection and Promotion Act, all individuals with COVID-19 are ordered to remain home for 14 days. In addition to that, de Villa is ordering that close contacts of people who have contracted the virus must also self-isolate for a period of two weeks.
“It is my belief that these measures need to be in place for up to 12 weeks. But I would tell you that how long these measures need to be in place and how successful we are in terms of controlling the virus spread is entirely in our hands,” she said. “The more we are able to put these measures into place and the more we are able as a community to adhere to these recommendations the shorter will be the duration of these measures and the more effective we will be at reducing the loss of lives in our community,” she said on Wednesday.
As of yesterday, 628 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Toronto, with another 165 probable cases, including 33 that have required treatment in an intensive care unit according to Dr. de Villa.
Toronto is currently preparing to see caseloads akin to those reported in places like New York City, where over a 1,100 people have died. Dr. de Villa said that the numbers are headed in the wrong direction with the city seeing an almost 500 percent increase in confirmed cases in just the last two weeks.
“This is not a favourable trajectory and as your medical officer of health I am deeply concerned,” she said. “I realize I depict a very stark picture here. A very stark picture but is one that is honest and true. Given this is our current situation it is my belief that we must absolutely implement stronger measures to avoid the type of results we are seeing in places like New York City.”
The City of Toronto has already cancelled permits for any and all major events and festivals through June 30, but de Villa’s believes that life as we know it could look different for some time still to come.
Mayor John Tory concurred de Villa's assertion that the number of coronavirus cases in Toronto are headed in “the wrong direction” and it's now “absolutely clear that this is going to be a very long battle.”
“I believe most people want this over as soon as possible and if given the choice they will do what it takes to end this situation at the earliest possible date which being candid likely does mean the 12 weeks referred to by Dr. de Villa,” he said.
“You want to go and visit and give a hug to your mother or grandmother as soon as you can, you want to go to a restaurant and sit on the patio and have a beer, you want to watch your kids once again able to play on a playground without restriction and you want to go to a Blue Jays game or hang out on the beach with friends but getting to those better days will depend on our collective response as a city. We have it in our control to make those better days come sooner.”
The recommendations made by de Villa have been championed by the Toronto Mayor, saying it, “give us the best possible chance of avoiding a fate such as that being experienced in New York City” but he admitted that this is, “strong medicine.”
“This is a tough day and there will be many tough days ahead but we will deal with those tough days starting today and push through so that we can avoid really dark days,” he said. “This city gives me hope every single day. There are things that go on in this city that give you hope every single day without exception, even today when some things may look bleak. I want today’s announcement to give you hope, I want for us to give hope to each other and I promise you that if we know what we have to do and we do what we know we have to do then we will emerge stronger and better than ever.”