Ontario Premier Doug Ford said the province is in the “most serious situation” it’s been in since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic as 4,249 new novel coronavirus cases were reported on Friday, marking another single-day record.
At a press conference Friday, Ford said the consequences will be “more dire” if public health measures are ignored and that the provincewide shutdown might not end on Jan. 23.
“We will have to look at more extreme measures,” Ford said. “In the meantime, more people will get sick, our hospitals will become overwhelmed. Please, I’m asking all Ontarians to please stay home and save lives.”
While the province hit a new daily case record, it said about 450 cases are a result of a data backlog and are older than the last 24 hours.
Ford said the province will release new COVID-19 modelling numbers early next week and that it’ll be a “wake up call” for Ontarians.
“We’re in a desperate situation, and when you see the modelling, you’ll fall off your chair,” he said.
Ford said “everything is on the table” when it comes to fighting the novel coronavirus.
“We don’t want to scare people, but on the other hand, I think there’s too much complacency,” Ontario’s associate chief medical health officer, Dr. Barbara Yaffe, said at the press conference.
“I think we do need to consider more serious measures, perhaps similar to what happened in the spring and looking at other jurisdictions, what they have done and what has worked.”
Yaffe said Ontario has more people hospitalized, in the intensive care unit (ICU) and on ventilators. She also said hospitals are starting to have to cut back on elective surgeries and other important procedures that require ICU care.
“They’re starting to have to move patients between hospitals,” Yaffe said. “We have more and more outbreaks in congregate care, particularly long-term care.”
Yaffe said there have been increased COVID-19 positivity rates in children and that the numbers have gone up “dramatically” since the middle to the end of December 2020. She also said six cases of the U.K. COVID-19 variant have been identified in Ontario.
“There’s probably more that we don’t know about,” she said. “As far as we know, the cases have been in people who recently travelled to the U.K. or were in close contact of a traveller, and they have maintained their quarantine.”
Ford said Ontarians must continue to stay home, avoid gatherings with people outside their household, wear a mask, physically distance and wash their hands.
“We have to hunker down, I just can’t stress this enough,” Ford said. “This is crunch time right now.”
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