Peel Region’s medical officer of health says he is recommending the area move into the grey lockdown zone of Ontario’s colour-coded COVID-19 response framework as the date approaches for reassessment.
“As we exit the province’s stay-at-home order, I am recommending that we enter the province’s framework under grey for a two-week period,” Dr. Lawrence Loh said at a weekly briefing for Brampton Wednesday morning.
The Ontario government is expected to announce when and if Peel Region, Toronto and North Bay — the only three regions still in shutdown and under a stay-at-home order — will move to in the colour-coded system on Friday.
“Unfortunately, we are seeing a reversal of the favourable trends that we’ve observed in the last five weeks,” Loh said.
“This is driven by the growth of variants of concern and the loosening of measures in other jurisdictions.”
Loh said two weeks ago that five COVID-19 variant cases were reported, but that has since jumped to more than 100 confirmed cases with approximately 600 more presumptive variant cases.
“These numbers give me pause,” Loh said.
“In this race between vaccines and variants, we know that we have limited vaccine supply at this time and rapidly accelerating variants.”
So far in Ontario, three variants of concern have been identified. The variant first detected in the U.K (Lineage B.1.1.7) dominates overall, followed by the variant first detected in South Africa (Lineage B.1.351) and then the variant first detected in Brazil (Lineage P.1).
“Reopening too quickly erases the gains that we’ve made, putting lives and well-being at risk,” Loh warned.
“The U.K. saw a third wave when they reopened with variants in their midst and nobody, myself included, wants to see that. We must try to keep what happened there from happening here.”
He also said he does not want to see the province’s so-called emergency brake being pulled on Peel Region as it was in Thunder Bay and Simcoe-Muskoka recently. Those two regions went into the grey lockdown zone from red control.
Although capacity in intensive care units is lower than at the peak of the second wave, Loh said the levels are comparable to what the region saw in the first wave.
Loh said on Wednesday that Brampton’s test positivity is at 8.7 per cent, which is up from 7.4 per cent compared to the week prior. The weekly incidence rate is at 128.1 cases per 100,000 people, which is up from 115.1 last week.
Looking at Mississauga, Mayor Bonnie Crombie advocated on Feb. 24 for her city to move into the red control level. She said at the time Mississauga was seeing around 73 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents and barring a spike in cases, that should warrant an easing of restrictions.
However, just over a week prior to that Mississauga saw a variant outbreak declared at a Mississauga condo building.
Loh is set to provide an update on Mississauga at 4 p.m. on Wednesday.
In responding to a reporter question about splitting the region up putting part of it in grey and the other part in red, Loh said that his job is to advise the entire region as a whole as well as spoke about how interconnected the communities are including the health care system.
Meanwhile, online registration for COVID-19 vaccinations for those 80 years of age and older began Tuesday at two sites in Peel Region and some seniors were also able to received shots.
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