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Ontario's doctors to hold briefing on best practices to avoid 3rd pandemic wave

Last Updated Feb 23, 2021 at 7:09 am EST

A woman wearing a protective face mask walks past St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto on Jan. 11, 2021, amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS IMAGES/Rachel Verbin THE CANADIAN PRESS IMAGES/Rachel Verbin

The Ontario Medical Association (OMA) is hosting a briefing on Tuesday afternoon, discussing what measures the province can take to help avoid a third wave of the pandemic.

The OMA’s president, Dr. Samantha Hill, will be joined by Peel’s medical officer of health, Dr. Lawrence Loh, and the head of Microbology at St. Michael’s Hospital, Dr. Larissa Matukas.

A number of topics are expected to be discussed including how to tackle the spread of variant cases, vaccine delays and distribution challenges, re-opening communities too quickly and sustainable public health measures.

The briefing is set for 1 p.m.

The OMA is calling for even stricter measures in the province’s colour-coded framework. Among them, banning indoor dining in ‘Red-Control’ zones’ and encouraging stores to offer curbside service instead of allowing customers inside.

Under the current guidelines non-essential stores and restaurants are able to welcome customers inside with limited capacity.

York Region returned to the province’s colour-coded system of pandemic restrictions on Monday, joining most other public health units in the province, while health officials in Toronto and Peel, including Dr. Loh, expressed concern about the rise of variants and asked the province to keep their regions under a stay-at-home order that was set to be lifted this week.

After two weeks, the government will reassess the impact of public health and workplace safety measures to determine if  public health units should stay where it is or be moved to a different level.

Meanwhile, family doctor’s in Ontario say they have received very little information to offer their patients on the availability of vaccines.

Canada is set to receive an influx of COVID-19 vaccine doses this week, as the country moves to speed up its vaccination efforts and officials in Ontario say the province has the capacity to inoculate nearly 40,000 residents per day.

“We don’t think we can get at it right in the first week or 10 days of March but by the middle of March, we want to be able to start vaccinating those 80 years of age and older and we will be reaching out to them in the next week to two weeks to tell them when their opportunity is going to be,” said Gen. Rick Hillier.

Toronto and Peel are preparing for the sped up vaccination rollout with multiple mass vaccination clinics set to open up in the region once the vaccine supply is available.

The latest provincial numbers confirm 390 cases of the B.1.1.7 variant first detected in the UK and nine cases of the B 1.351 variant first detected in South Africa.

At Monday’s COVID-19 briefing, Toronto mayor John Tory said the weekly positivity rate in long-term care homes had dropped significantly since November.

The City’s medical officer of health, Dr. Eileen de Villa says the numbers show “the power of vaccines” but she says it’s not time yet to ease up on visiting restrictions in long-term care homes, even for people with both their doses.

Ontario reported 1,058 new COVID-19 cases and 11 additional deaths on Monday.

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