Ontario’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Kieran Moore was on a “planned personal trip” last week amid calls to address the sixth wave of COVID-19 in the province.
“While away, he was in regular contact with his team, including an acting chief medical officer of health as well as associate chief medical officers of health and other ministry officials who continued to assess public health indicators and advise government accordingly,” a spokesperson for the Ministry of Health told Global News in an email.
The news was first reported by CityNews early Tuesday. The report said Moore took a trip to the Dominican Republic.
There are currently no advisories in place advising against international travel to stop anyone from taking a trip.
However, the media asked government officials last week several times about Moore’s whereabouts as COVID-19 figures trend upwards in Ontario.
At a press conference on Wednesday, Premier Doug Ford was asked whether he thought Moore should be made more available.
“Well let me tell you about Dr. Moore. Dr. Moore is one of the hardest working people I’ve ever met,” Ford said.
“He never rests. He works around the clock for the people of Ontario and like yesterday, he had a meeting will all public health officers throughout the province. He is on the job 24/7 looking at the figures, looking at the stats and giving myself and our cabinet advice and he’s done an incredible job from day one.”
Last Tuesday, Health Minister Christine Elliott was also asked why Moore has not done interviews with the media since he stopped his regular briefings last month.
“That was Dr. Moore’s choice,” Elliott said.
“He felt that we we’re at the point now with the pandemic that we have the tools that we need to to learn to live with it and so that frequent representations and meetings with him aren’t necessary…. If he feels that the situation changes and he wants to come back and do more frequent interviews and meetings, then he’s certainly free to do so….
“People want to carry on with their lives. We want to continue to open up our economy and that’s what we need to focus our attention on.”
Moore has said that as the province learns to live with COVID-19, he would only hold briefings when he had something new to share.
He held a press briefing Monday for the first time since early March.
There, he too was asked several times about his lack of public appearances.
“So the purpose of coming out today — as you know, my last press conference, we told you I’d come out if there was an issue. The purpose today is to remind all Ontarians that they are eligible for boosters — 60 and above are eligible for their second booster,” he said.
“The purpose of coming out today is just to reiterate: yes, we’re in the sixth wave. Yes, we will see a rise in admissions to hospital and to the intensive care unit. But as always, we have tools that can mitigate that and prevent it for all Ontarians. And to call once again for people to come forward and get immunized.”
Moore continued, “If I have new messaging of risk to any of the citizens of Ontario, I absolutely will come out.”
He said officials share key messaging with local public health agencies, health system leaders, and hospital leadership, as was done “last week” regarding fourth doses and anti-virals.
“It’s (the) responsibility of all of our health care leaders across Ontario to disseminate this information at a community level, and I’m happy to come out on a more regular basis if that message needs to be promoted,” he said.
Moore also noted that COVID-19 data “has been available to all Ontarians, and many medical officers of health and leaders across the health system have been responding to a lot of these questions.”