Sat. Mar 18th, 2023

It’s been nearly ten days since Ontario was thrust back into the world of forced business closures and more stringent lockdown measures than what we’ve been used to in recent months, and though the government had planned for current measures to be in place for only 21 days, it looks like, as some of us expected, they may push on for longer.

In their initial announcement about the new restrictions, Premier Doug Ford and his team had stated that the modified Step 2 would last “at least 21 days until Jan. 26, 2022, subject to trends and key indicators.”

They also said that this is all indeed “short-term to blunt the impact on the healthcare system” rather than to try to decrease case counts to a certain number, as was one of the main goals earlier in the pandemic.

But, Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore is still not certain if things will indeed open back up on the 26th despite being halfway through this latest stint of measures.

“You have our conviction that we want these to be short as possible to only protect the health system” Moore said during a press conference on Thursday, adding that the key metrics he will be assessing over the coming days will be COVID-19 hospitalizations and ICU admissions vs. hospital staffing and resources.

He also said that numbers are still unfortunately not going in the direction health officials would like them to be.

“We don’t have great clarity yet given that the number of people in the health system continue to increase day after day. We’re looking for a plateau and a peak [before] we slowly and cautiously remove public health measures.”

Along with the above indicators, the province will also be looking at per cent positivity among PCR tests — which are now strictly limited to only symptomatic individuals at high risk for severe illness from the virus, which may mean a higher figure — and modelling projections from the notoriously wary COVID-19 Science Advisory Table.

Moore anticipates more surety by next week regarding the hospital numbers, and thus the potential for reopening, but hinted that we may be in for a more phased approach rather than a return to how things were before Jan. 5.

“I can’t guarantee the 26th. Please stay tuned,” he continued. “We’ll be watching the same data as those experts at the science table and we collaborate with them to be able to inform public health measures.”

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