A Home Lock and Hold order is extended in Canada’s largest city until at least March 8.
Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott said Friday it was a difficult but necessary decision.
Toronto’s medical officer of health, Dr. Eileen de Villa, this week called on the provincial government to extend the lockdown, saying she had never been so worried about the future because of the new variants of the coronavirus. Toronto Mayor John Tory supported the request and said he wanted this to be the last lockdown.
The shutdown in Toronto began on November 23 after a second wave of the novel coronavirus hit the province.
Scientists say the British variant found in Ontario spreads more easily and is likely more deadly, but so far existing vaccines appear to be effective against it.
Canada has experienced a vaccine shortage until this week. The federal government expects to receive 6 million doses of Pfizer and Moderna by the end of March and 23 million more in April, May and June and 55 million in the following three months. Canada has 37 million people. The province of Alberta in western Canada plans to start vaccinating people aged 75 and over from February 24, when teachers were not given priority.
Schools had just reopened in Toronto this week, and retail stores were scheduled to reopen on February 22.
“I know we are tired. I know we have all sacrificed so much. But there is hope on the horizon. The federal government has assured us that the vaccines we desperately need are on the way, ”Ontario Premier Doug Ford said.
The stay-at-home decision was lifted for the majority of the province earlier this week as the government reopened the economy despite warnings it could trigger a third wave of infections.
Toronto and Canada previously flattened the epidemic curve and are doing it again in this second wave.
Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, said there are currently less than 33,000 active cases in Canada, a 60% drop from a month ago. But Tam said Canada may not be able to avoid a rapid acceleration in daily cases, which are expected to reach 20,000 by mid-March, without continued vigilance.
“We are at a critical point in the pandemic and our efforts have started to tip the scales in our favor,” Tam said.
“Protecting our progress and limiting the impact of the variants of concern will require more aggressive action.”
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