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Next few days critical for social distancing: Ontario health officials

Last Updated Mar 25, 2020 at 8:19 pm EDT

Toronto Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa (left) listens as Ontario Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams speaks at Queen's Park in Toronto on Wednesday March 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

Ontario health officials say the next few days are even more critical in terms of observing social distancing and self-isolation.

Chief Medical Officer Dr. David Williams said in a press briefing on Wednesday that this is a period of “peak activity” for lab tests coming back positive.

He said the spike was expected because the virus incubation period is almost up for those who returned from travel over the last two weeks.

Williams stressed the need for social distancing and self-isolation at this critical time in order to stem the spread of COVID-19 and flatten the curve.

“You know what to do, you can prevent it, you can protect yourself. It’s not something that’s mysterious,” he said, adding that all levels of government have been providing people with copious amounts of information to be able to take care of themselves and their community.

In addition, Williams said it is “foolish” and “stupid” for people to ignore social distancing and self-isolation directives and further called it “irresponsible and inappropriate.”

While confirmed cases are expected to continue rising rapidly, the number of resolved cases have stayed relatively low.

Associate Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Barbara Yaffe says the reason for a lack of resolved cases is because the criteria for resolution have been somewhat cumbersome.

Currently, for a case to be considered resolved, a patient has to have two negative coronavirus tests at least 24 hours apart. As tests for new cases are being prioritized, those for possibly resolved cases are on the back burner.

Yaffe said public health units have now been informed to use the following criteria to consider a case resolved:

  • the patient was not hospitalized
  • the patient is not a healthcare worker
  • it has been 14 days since the patient became ill
  • the patient feels better and back to normal

 

With these new criteria, Yaffe says they expect the number of resolved cases to go up.

Meanwhile, both Yaffe and Williams stressed the need to stay home as much as possible and practice proper hand washing and sanitizing techniques.

They added that people should use the self-assessment tool on the government’s website or call your local Public Health Unit or Telehealth if you feel you have the virus.

Ontario coronavirus cases by the numbers:

  • Total cases: 688
  • Resolved: 8
  • Deaths: 13
  • Exposure information unknown: 43 per cent
  • Exposure information known: 57 per cent
    – Travel related total: 64 per cent
    – U.S. – 30 per cent
    – Europe – 28 per cent
    – Close contact: 23 per cent
    – Community spread: 13 per cent
  • Hospitalized: 40 patients
  • Intensive Care Unit: 17 patients
    – On ventilators: 15 patients
  • Age breakup:
    – 29-60 years – 60 per cent of cases
    – 60 and above – 31 per cent of cases

 

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