Peel Region remains one of the hardest-hit regions for COVID-19 in Ontario. To tackle the issue, public health officials said they are using every tool at their disposal, including rolling out more isolation centres.
The medical officer of health for the region, Dr. Lawrence Loh, said addressing community spread is a priority.
“We need to be able to break this vicious cycle of COVID-19 that goes from workplaces to homes and homes to workplaces,” he said.
Helping people isolate has been a key part of Peel’s COVID-19 response. Last March, an isolation centre was opened in north Mississauga. City officials said between March and January, 908 people used the service.
Thanks to federal and provincial funding, within the past month three additional facilities are now in place, bringing the total to four in Mississauga and Brampton.
Public health officials said even though a stay at the isolation centre is free and voluntary, they know some people will not choose this program for a variety of reasons. They said people are concerned about the stigma of having contracted the virus, others have caregiving responsibilities for young kids and older family members, and for many people, taking unpaid time off from work is a deal-breaker.
“We know that workers are not getting tested, and we know that workers are not self-isolating because they would rather be ensuring that they can keep a roof over their head and food on their table,” Loh said.
“The absence of paid sick days really limits access to a lot of interventions that would really stop and slow the spread of COVID-19.”
Dr. Naheed Dosani is the director of Peel Region’s COVID-19 housing program. He said he and his team are doing everything they can to support those who choose to come to the isolation centre and make it easy to access.
“It goes without saying that COVID-19 has had a disproportionate effect on racialized communities,” said Dosani.
Infectious diseases physicians like Dr. Sumon Chakrabarti said he knows programs like this work and he expects to see more.
“I think this is a very key intervention that the lockdown doesn’t address, and I think it’s a very smart thing to have done in this area,” Chakrabarti said.
“I suspect this will be happening all over Canada and it’s being used all over the world as well.”