Ontario cabinet to meet as cases of COVID 19 hit new high

Published April 15, 2021 at 9:08 pm

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Premier Doug Ford’s cabinet is meeting Thursday to discuss new restrictions necessary to deal with the alarming rise in COVID-19 variant cases that are putting immense pressure on hospitals.

Solicitor General Sylvia Jones would not say what measures the cabinet would consider or if a curfew – similar to the one enforced in Montreal – would be among them.

“Premier Ford has said from the very beginning of this pandemic, that all options are on the table,” Jones said. “And that continues to be our philosophy as a cabinet and a caucus.”

Jones, however, acknowledged the challenges a curfew would present in Ontario, pointing to the anti-curfew protests in Quebec.

“I think the Montreal riots speak to the challenge of both enforcing, and people’s willingness to do a curfew,” she said.

The cabinet meeting comes as Ontario reported a record 4,736 new cases of COVID-19 today and 29 more deaths linked to the virus.

The Canadian Civil Liberties Association said a curfew would not help the public health crisis, and urged the government not to go down that road.

“Imposing a curfew is an admission that the government has run out of ideas,” said Cara Zwibel, director of Fundamental Freedoms at the CCLA. “It is an unnecessary and disproportionate measure that is likely to do more harm than good.”

Meanwhile, the virus has sent 1,932 people to the province’s hospitals despite a stay-at-home order. There are 659 patients in intensive care and 419 on a ventilator.

Hospitals have been ramping down non-essential and non-urgent medical procedures this week to ensure they have the capacity to care for COVID-19 patients as infections keep rising.

The government said a COVID-19 field hospital could be activated in Toronto later this month to help deal with an influx of patients.

The Ministry of Health said the mobile health unit at Sunnybrook Hospital is expecting to take patients in the coming weeks.

The field hospital has been set up in a parking lot at the site and is one of two in the province designed to help address growing capacity challenges.

The province said the temporary beds will provide increased capacity to the health system as a whole by freeing up acute and critical care capacity within hospitals.

The government said it will also help expand capacity by allowing the hospitals to transfer non-critical care patients to these general medicine beds.

Meanwhile, the Grey Bruce Health Unit told residents to stay home for the next two days as COVID-19 variants of concern surge in the region.

Public health authorities said all residents should consider themselves a COVID-19 carrier for the next 48 hours. Authorities said the steps are necessary after 70 new cases were confirmed in the region in the past 36 hours.

The public health unit said it needs to slow the spread of the virus in order to do contact tracing.

It is also shutting down the Grey Bruce Health Unit info-line and cancelling a mass vaccination clinic on Saturday to redeploy staff to case management and contact tracing.

The province says 105,430 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine were administered since Wednesday’s update, bringing the total number of vaccinations to 3,528,404.

Shawn Jeffords, The Canadian Press

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