Ontario Premier Doug Ford says according to health officials the province is now officially in the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic.
“We know that this wave will be more complicated, more complex. It will be worse than the first wave we faced earlier this year,” Ford said at his daily press briefing on Monday.
“But what we don’t know yet, is how bad the second wave will be.”
On Monday, the province recorded 700 new cases of COVID-19 after processing 41,111 tests. This is the highest single-day increase ever reported in Ontario since the pandemic began.
“Please follow the health guidance, please download the COVID-19 alert app, please get your flu shot this year,” Ford urged.
Dr. David Williams, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, joined Ford and said Ontario is on the upward slope of the second wave.
He said health experts are following numerous metrics such as hospitalizations, ICUs, cases, outbreak cases, long-term care facilities, contact tracing and management, lab testing capacity and per cent positivity to determine how the second wave will go.
“There’s many factors that play in here looking at how this is rolling out in the province of Ontario, how it’s rolling out locally and regionally,” Williams said.
“Right now we are in a second wave that looks like one of those undulating waves.”
“How big it is, we don’t know yet. It’s not like the tsunami-type second wave but we’re watching to see how this will have impact on our systems,” Williams added.
However, Williams said Ontario is better prepared now than in the first wave.
In the first wave, Williams noted, the province was processing less than half the tests it is doing now.
He also said the most affected population when it came to virus infections back then were the elderly and seniors versus now more people between the 20 and 39 age group, and the 40 and 59 age group are being tested.
“We really have to hunker down and stay on task to see if we can flatten this curve like we did the first time. People had gotten very casual I think at the end of summer, early fall and we’ve seen that effect,” he said.
The Ontario Hospital Association says it is calling on the government to intensify public health measures in the Greater Toronto Area and Ottawa as infections continue to rise. They are asking for a rollback to Stage 2 measures.
Health Minister Christine Elliot said “we don’t want to turn back a stage unless we absolutely have to.”
“But if we do have to, we will, because the most important thing is the health and well-being of the people of Ontario,” Elliott continued.
Ford also announced another pillar of the fall COVID-19 preparedness plan which includes hiring more health workers.
The government is investing $52.5 million to recruit, retain, and support over 3,700 more frontline health care workers to ensure the healthcare system can meet any surge in demand.
The province said $26.3 million will go towards supporting personal support workers (PSWs) and supportive care workers, and $26 million will go towards supporting nurses.