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Ontario's top doctor says to enjoy sun, patios safely as VOC cases rise in province, Toronto

Last Updated Mar 22, 2021 at 10:50 pm EDT

Dr. David Williams, Chief Medical Officer of Health for Ontario makes an announcement at Queen's Park in Toronto, on Thurs., Aug, 13, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Christopher Katsarov THE CANADIAN PRESS/Christopher Katsarov

Spring has sprung and the weather is warming up — but a third wave of the pandemic is upon us.

On Monday, the province’s top doctor, Dr. David Williams, says go outside, enjoy the sun, or even hit a patio, but do it safely.

This comes as the variants of concern (VOC) now make up 50 per cent of all new cases in Toronto, and the positivity rating in Ontario is at its highest level since February 1.

VOC continue to make up roughly half of Ontario’s daily case numbers — up from 39 per cent one week ago.

Williams says he’s concerned with how that’s affecting the hospital system. Ontario health officials also say VOC seem to come with higher levels of ICU admissions and mortality rates, and are now affecting more young people.

It comes as we enter the first week of outdoor dining in Toronto and Peel Region, but Williams says that comes with a great deal of personal responsibility.

“The risk is dependent on how you protect yourself, and how you assess the situation of whoever is running a venue or dealing with it, are they adhering to the rules?” Williams says, “is this 6 foot distancing, are households staying at their own tables, is there proper masking and hand hygiene, and other things in effect when you partake in these activities? Because we’ve said before, if you do all these stringently, you will not acquire COVID or the VOC.”

Williams says that same personal protective behavior needs to be in place with Passover and Easter ahead, “and we ask that those individuals [who] partake in that will do all they need to do to protect themselves, their loved ones, and others.”

RELATED: Restaurant workers to be vaccinated as part of Phase 2, government officials say

Williams says this needs to be done in order to keep loosened restrictions in place — or else its back into lockdown.

Meanwhile, Toronto’s top doctor, Dr. Eileen de Villa, says of Toronto’s current confirmed cases of COVID-19, 50 per cent of them have come from VOC.

At this point more than 374,000 doses of the vaccines have been administered in the city, but while things are ramping up, de Villa says there still isn’t nearly enough supply.

“We certainly have cause for optimism in the weeks to come, but we do need to continue to expect that we will see more cases. Those cases will potentially lead to significant stress on our healthcare system and its capacity to respond,” de Villa says.

Toronto Public Health says the city is nearing the end of phase one of the vaccine roll out.

Phase two will including opening more mass vaccination sites, including a new one at Thorncliffe Park, which is already putting needles in arms.

De Villa says the goal is to open 10 of those sites.

Once all the sites are open, de Villa says the City will have the ability to administer half a million doses a week, once vaccine supply is available.

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