As Ontario nears the end of its fourth week under a statewide lockdown, epidemiologists say declining new infections are proving the measures are working However, they warn that we are far from ready to reopen non-essential businesses, schools, and other severely restricted activities

Ontario has on Wednesday 2655 new COVID-19 cases reported The seven-day average fell to 2850, which is 10 consecutive days with a decrease of 3555 corresponds to

Ashleigh Tuite, an infectious disease epidemiologist at the University of Toronto’s Dalla Lana School of Public Health, says the falling average is a “positive sign” but only part of the picture officials look at when they think about the next Think about the steps of the province

“I think it’s important to look at these numbers and celebrate the small wins, but also to realize that we will be around for a while,” Tuite said in an interview

On Wednesday the province reported 1598 COVID-19 patients in Ontario hospitals 395 COVID-19 have been admitted to intensive care units and 89 more deaths have been reported, a previous record

Tuite and other experts say these indicators remain far too high to consider easing lockdown measures. It takes weeks, not days, to get to this point

“We want to see there is a steady decline every week,” Tuite

said

“I’d say you probably want to see a 25 percent drop from the week, if you see this trend, you can talk about opening things up again”

Earlier this week, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr David Williams said easing lockdown restrictions will reduce new infections to “around or below” 1000 a day will require

Dr Jeff Kwong, a senior scientist and infectious disease specialist at the University of Toronto, says that 1000 cases per day are too high to consider waiver restrictions

“I’m not sure where Dr Williams got a thousand cases a day. I heard we should aim for one [new daily infection] per million people. Ontario has a population of about 15 million people, so that’s 15 cases a day, “Kwong said in an interview
Williams also highlighted reducing the number of ICU admissions to 150 as another threshold for reopening on Wednesday, Ontario reported 395 COVID-19 patients in the province’s ICUs

As for reopening schools, Kwong says it’s a “really tricky call” “Keeping them closed can reduce the spread of COVID-19, but it’s harmful to kids

Kwong says it will take more time to return to face-to-face learning, but in the meantime, wants to know what criteria the province is considering for school reopening

While infection, hospitalization, and death rates can all be brought down by the time it reopens, is it only a matter of time before that reopening causes them to skyrocket again?

Pretty much accurate according to experts, however, a malicious lock loop can be avoided with adequate support to test, track and isolate COVID-19 cases

Tuite says introducing faster testing will be key to reopening safely and that employees will have paid vacation to stay home while they are sick

“We have to do everything we can to ensure that once the case numbers come in they stay low and that we all have these other supports so we can keep cases at manageable levels,” Tuite said

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