Toronto in coronavirus peak but pandemic activity ‘slowing down,’ medical officer of health says

Click to play video: 'Coronavirus outbreak: Toronto health officer says ‘cautious optimism’ needed as city’s curve is flattening'
Coronavirus outbreak: Toronto health officer says ‘cautious optimism’ needed as city’s curve is flattening
WATCH ABOVE: Dr. Eileen de Villa, Toronto’s medical officer of health said on Monday that the current data shows a decrease in the number of new daily hospitalizations and that the city hasn’t seen the dramatic surge in hospitalizations originally expected. – Apr 20, 2020

Toronto’s medical officer of health says the city is in the peak of the coronavirus pandemic, but adds there’s reason to have “cautious optimism.”

“Our data modelling shows us that we are currently in the peak period for our reported cases. The COVID-19 case doubling rate, which captures the number of days for our case counts to double, has slowed over the past two weeks,” Dr. Eileen de Villa told reporters Monday afternoon.

“This tells us pandemic activity is slowing down, and this is good news.”

She also noted that there haven’t been “dramatic surges” in hospitalizations, adding new instances of people being admitted to hospital has started to decrease.

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“All of this information gathered together should be considered with cautious optimism,” she said.

“We are seeing our curve flattening because you are washing your hands, because you are staying home, and because you are keeping a safe distance from your friends, your families and other loved ones as difficult as I know this is.”

However, there were caveats to Monday’s update.

De Villa said there were two types of outbreaks: One in the broader community and the other in congregate settings (especially long-term care homes).

She said those who get COVID-19 in the broader community tend to see hospitalizations more whereas those who live in long-term care facilities can more at risk of death.

De Villa said with a change in COVID-19 testing directives by the Ontario government and an increase in the amount of testing, it’s difficult to specifically project what Toronto will experience with cases.

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Both she and Toronto Mayor John Tory said residents must remain vigilant and continue to follow public health advice and directives issued.

“The only way we will continue to be successful is if we keep these measures in place for more time and for everyone to continue to do their part by staying at home,” de Villa said.

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“The job is not yet done,” Tory added.

When it comes to the broader community, de Villa stressed the importance of physical distancing. When it comes to those in congregate settings, she said specialized infection and outbreak controls are needed.

De Villa’s comments come as the Ontario government revealed updated coronavirus modelling data that shows the province has already peaked in cases among community spread and numbers appear to be trending downwards towards a best-case scenario.

Adalsteinn (Steini) Brown, dean of the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto, showcased the modelling data at Queen’s Park on Monday alongside Ontario’s associate chief medical officer of health Barbara Yaffe and President and CEO of Ontario Health Matthew Anderson.

READ MORE: Toronto officials call for provincial pandemic plan for shelters to avoid ‘mass outbreaks’

“Projections now show Ontario’s COVID-19 outbreak behaving more like best case,” the report highlighted.

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However, Brown said that while community spread of COVID-19 has peaked, cases in long-term care homes, retirement homes and any other congregate settings appear to continue to grow.

Meanwhile, as of Monday afternoon, de Villa said there were 3,343 confirmed cases and 339 probable cases of COVID-19 in Toronto. She said 99 of the 262 hospitalized residents. To date, 181 people diagnosed with COVID-19 have died.

— With files from Gabby Rodrigues

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