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Toronto expanding its contact tracing program ahead of city's restrictions being lifted

Last Updated Nov 5, 2020 at 8:16 am EST

Toronto Fire Chief Matthew Pegg, Toronto Mayor John Tory and Toronto's Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa address the media on the city's latest COVID-19 efforts.

It is a key pillar of the City’s plan to ‘open safely and remain open safely’ as COVID-19 restrictions are set to be eased in Toronto next Saturday.

Toronto Public Health is ramping up its contact tracing program.

The City’s medical officer of health, Eileen de Villa, said with those modified Stage 2 restrictions set to be lifted November 14th, they want to be able to prevent the virus from spreading as much as possible.

So the city will not only be resuming its full contact tracing program —  it’s expanding it.

RELATED: Ontario unveils a new tiered system for restrictions, indoor dining to return

“We have increased our case and contact team from 50 to roughly 700, the largest in the country, and we have 200 additional staff coming on board this month,” de Villa said.

“we are working on targeting contact tracing to identify ‘super spreaders’ with a pro active focus on finding events that cause a big number of infections and the people who are ‘super spreaders.'”

Board of Health Chair Joe Cressy said Public Health will also be rolling out new tools over the coming days, including text messaging, robocalls, and online surveys to more easily contact people.

Toronto is one of four COVID hotspots in the province, along with Ottawa, Peel Region and York region, currently under tighter restrictions that closed gyms, cinemas, and indoor dining.

Restrictions will be lifted in the other regions this Saturday, while Toronto had asked for another week to prepare.

RELATED: Ontario to lay out next phase of COVID-19 response in Thursday’s budget

Meanwhile, Mayor John Tory weighed in ahead of Thursday’s budget announcement.

Tory told Breakfast Television that he’s looking for continued help from the province when it comes to the pandemic.

“We’ve had a, what they call, a ‘Restart and Recovery Plan,’ which has helped us. For example, to make up for the fact we lost hundreds of millions of dollars of transit revenue, we kept the system going, but we didn’t have the revenue for people who weren’t riding, and therefore not paying fairs and so they helped us with that for 2020,” Tory said.

“There’s a bit more money to come for 2020, we need confirmation of that, and that may come today [Thursday], but then just as importantly, we need to know that they’re going to be there for us in 2021.”

Tory said he would like to see improved resources for contact tracing and COVID-19 testing. He’s also looking for more funding for supportive housing in the city.

 

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