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Dr. Barbara Yaffe, Ontario's associate chief medical officer of health, confirmed during a press conference on Monday that the provincial officials will not be implementing a curfew in the province when recommendations for additional measures are announced Tuesday.
“At this point, I understand it’s not going forward but there are other serious measures being considered,” Dr. Yaffe said.
She added that when considered something like a curfew, in particular, it’s important to look at the potential negative implication of that measure, including the enforcement requirement and “the potential stigmatization of certain neighbourhoods.”
Earlier on Monday, Toronto officials confirmed the city is not looking at introducing a curfew either.
“There isn’t much to support the implementation of curfews,” Dr. Eileen de Villa, Toronto's Medical Officer of Health said at a press conference. “There is, however, a great deal of evidence that focuses on distance, distance and distance.”
“The more we are actually able to keep apart and keep out distance, particularly from people that we don’t live with, the better off we are in terms of out ability to control the spread of COVID-19.”
Dr. Yaffe stressed that the COVID-19 cases in Ontario are “scary” and “should make everyone worried, take notice and take assertive action.” She added that she is not trying to “blame” people but it’s imperative that everyone follow the public health rules in place.
“It’s not going to be an easy few weeks but what these trends demonstrate is that further actions are necessary and we must all continue to follow the public health measures in place in order to get transmission of COVID-19 under control,” she said.
Ontario's associate chief medical officer of health revealed about a third of people in Ontario are not following public health recommendations and continue to “congregate with other people.”
“It does seem very innocent at the time but unfortunately, that’s how this infection is spread,” Dr. Yaffe said.
“Placing restrictions on society is a very serious matter, with a lot of considerations, both benefits and risks. In the meantime, if people would just follow the basic public health measures that we have repeated many, many times, that is what will, in the end, help us reduce the infection.”
Dr. Yaffe confirmed that over 50 per cent of COVID-19 cases in Ontario are in Toronto, Peel and York but there are “elevated case counts” across the province. In the past seven days, 330 new outbreaks were reported, with more than half occurring in a vulnerable sector.
“There was substantial growth in the period between Christmas and New Year, and in the coming days we will continue to see the impact of New Year’s Eve as we approach the two-week incubation period this Friday,” she warned.
“Urgent action is required to address these worsening trends in our key public health indicators.”
When asked if there is a number or benchmark Ontario needs to reach to begin loosening any restrictions, Dr. Yaffe said she could not provide a concrete value as COVID-19 continues to be widespread in the community, and the province has confirmed six cases of the variant of COVID-19 first identified in the U.K.
“I can’t say once we hit X number everything will be great,” she explained. “We need to keep monitoring very carefully, especially now with the emergence of variants.”