Hospitals in Ontario are being asked to scale down elective surgeries to “preserve capacity” in response to the novel coronavirus.
“In consultation with the Ontario Hospital Association, we’re asking hospitals to further implement pandemic plans by carefully ramping down elective surgeries,” Ontario’s Health Minister Christine Elliott said in a tweet Sunday afternoon just before 4:30 p.m. ET.
“Doing so will help preserve capacity to respond to #COVIDー19. A statement will follow shortly.”
“The approach that we are taking will provide the necessary discretion for hospitals to make decisions based on local circumstances, while preserving the ability for the province to take a more prescriptive approach, should it be warranted based on evidence,” Elliott said.
The announcement came shortly after Canada’s chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam warned that Canadians need to take “strong action” to prevent further spread of the virus, which has so far claimed one life in Canada.
As of the afternoon of March 15, 313 Canadians have been diagnosed with COVID-19, and cases have been confirmed or presumed in each of the 10 provinces, said Dr. Tam.
As of 5:30 p.m. ET March 15, there were 145 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Ontario, including five that have been resolved.
According to Ontario’s dedicated COVID-19 webpage, the province has been working with the health care system to monitor hospitals for any potential cases; flagged the novel coronavirus as a disease reportable under provincial health law; and met with hospitals and paramedics near Toronto Pearson Airport to inform them of border screening measures.
Earlier Sunday, all planned events at Ontario Parks were also cancelled until further notice, with public Ontario Parks buildings — like visitor centres — shutting down.
A statement by the province says this was in response to the provincial chief medical officer’s recommendation to “immediately suspend large events and public gatherings of over 250 people.”
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— With files by Global News reporter Kerri BreenView link »