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'This is not the time to get complacent': Ontario's COVID-19 situation improving but variants pose a risk to progress

Elisabetta Bianchini
·2-min read

Dr. Barbara Yaffe, Ontario's associate chief medical officer of health, stressed that as variants of concern continue to spread in the province, the public needs to continue to diligently follow the public health measures in place.

"This is not the time to get complacent," Dr. Yaffe said. "I am strongly urging everybody to please continue to stay at home and limit non-essential trips, and continue to adhere to public health measures."

Ontario has confirmed a total of 319 variant cases, 309 are the B.1.1.7 variant, first identified in the U.K., nine are B.1.3.5.1 variant initially detected in South Africa, and one case of the P1 variant, first identified in Brazil.

Variant cases are in 15 different public health units in Ontario, including 49 cases in York, 38 cases in Toronto and 38 in Peel Region. A total of 81 per cent of the variants cases are either associated with outbreaks or close contacts, while 11 per cent have no epidemiological link and seven per cent are travel related.

At the moment, about seven per cent of screened COVID-19 cases are due to variants of concern.

Despite the spread of COVID-19 variants, Dr. Yaffe confirmed that the seven-day average of cases in Ontario is now 1,035, which is 25 per cent lower than the same period last week. Ontario has an average of 23 deaths per day, compared to the average of 45 deaths per day in the same period last week. Hospitalizations are also down about 20 per cent on a seven-day average.

Ontario's associate chief medical officer of health also admitted that saving sick leave benefits is an "important factor."

"People need to know that if they're not feeling well or they need to go get a test, they’re not going to lose their pay," Dr. Yaffe said.

In an interview with CTV's Your Morning, Ontario Premier Doug Ford maintained the federal program exists but it the amount should be increased and the federal government needs to ensure the money gets to the public as soon as possible.

"We aren't going to duplicate and waste tax payers money double-dipping into their pockets," Ford said in the interview.

Check out our COVID-19 in Canada topic page for latest news, tips, health updates, cases and more.