After recommendations from Toronto Public Health, 22 schools in the city temporarily closed on Tuesday due to COVID-19 investigations.
According to infectious diseases specialist Isaac Bogoch, issues including the spread of variants and unchecked community transmission in Ontario regions have been main concerns.
“I think you’re going to see medical officers of health look at the schools pretty closely,” says Bogoch.
“And if there is data that really showed evidence that this is driving transmission I wouldn’t be surprised if we see more (closures).”
Bogoch adds that there are measures to create safer schools and hopes new policies will be considered when kids return to school.
At work, Bogoch says every day there are more people admitted to the hospital with COVID-19, adding in Ontario, there’s a major issue with the capacity in intensive care units.
“It’s clearly a problem here from a health-care capacity standpoint, and I think we have to be very concerned and mindful that the current measures probably aren’t going to slow things down fast enough, if at all in some of the high-burden areas,” he says.
The medical officers of health for Toronto, Peel Region and Ottawa have called for a provincewide stay-at-home order.
COVID-19 — Toronto, Peel, and Ottawa medical officers call for provincewide stay-at-home order
“You really have to take some more decisive measures to limit the spread of COVID-19 in the community, you can’t have your health-care system stretched beyond capacity,” says Bogoch.
“Unfortunately when your case numbers are this high and your health-care system is stretched, you’re really left with few options. There aren’t very many options left to rapidly lower the cases.”
Bogoch says there must be support implemented with a lockdown, adding that there will still be essential workers leaving their homes who should be prioritized for the vaccine.
“There’s a lot of measures that can be taken to rapidly improve the situation that we’re in right now and I really hope that we see movement from senior political and senior public health officials,” he says.
On the spread of the P.1 variant, first identified in Brazil, in British Columbia and Alberta, Bogoch says according to preliminary data, it is analogous to the B.1.1.7 variant, first identified in the U.K., in that it is more transmissible.
“It’s very likely to cause more significant illness in people who are infected,” he says, adding that, like all variants, they must be controlled.
“They’re real, they cause more problems, more transmissible (and) more significant infections.”
While some of the vaccines appear to have some protection against variants, Bogoch says we need to learn more about the P.1 variant.
Watch Bogoch’s full interview with ‘The Morning Show’ in the video above.
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