Toronto preparing for “inevitable” COVID-19 resurgence this fall

The city is working with the federal government to establish a voluntary self-isolation centre


A resurgence in COVID-19 in the weeks and months ahead is a matter of when not if, city officials said.

“There is no question that we will see resurgence,” Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health Eileen de Villa said during a press conference on Monday.

The city has released a plan that includes bringing back emergency child-care services if licensed child-care centres closed and keeping city buildings such as Metro Hall, city hall and civic centres shut.

The return of lockdown measures is also on the table.

City Manager Chris Murray said essential services could be reduced or cancelled, parks and recreation facilities could close or scale back, and emergency services could adapt to create food distribution sites, expand shelters and respite centres.

Bylaw enforcement would prioritize provincial orders and city bylaws pertaining to COVID-19, supports for long-term care homes could be scaled up and public transit could be scaled back.

“Virus resurgence is inevitable because most of us do not have immunity,” de Villa explained in a statement. “Our success in living with the virus depends greatly on the choices we all make to minimize risk to ourselves and others in the coming months.

“We will continue to vigorously champion the effective protections that have served Toronto well since the pandemic began here,” she added, “frequent hand washing, physical distancing and mask wearing.”

De Villa also said Toronto is working with Ottawa to establish a voluntary self-isolation centre for infected people who cannot safely self-isolate at home.

The city’s COVID-19 resurgence plan is based on experiences in other jurisdictions, as well as patterns in historical pandemics.

Though Toronto is expecting COVID-19 activity to increase this fall, it’s not clear how the pandemic will continue to unfold.

De Villa laid out three possible scenarios Toronto could experience: a series of small, repetitive waves that occur consistently and diminish over time; a large wave in the fall or winter followed by subsequent smaller waves; or a slow-burn of cases with no clear wave pattern.

According to the best data available, de Villa said, just over one per cent of Ontarians have COVID-19 antibodies. That means vast majority of people are vulnerable to infection.

Outcomes for patients can very and it’s not possible to predict how the virus will behave. De Villa added that 20-40 per cent of cases don’t show symptoms or only show mild symptoms.

Other preventative measures Toronto Public Health recommends is avoiding closed spaces, getting a flu shot and maintaining a 10-person bubble.

There have been 16,044 COVID-19 cases in Toronto since the outbreak began and 1,175 people have died.

Ontario’s daily case growth has largely remained in the low triple-digit range for the past two weeks.

@KevinRitchie

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