Limiting the spread of COVID-19 in the city rests on the decisions residents make, Toronto’s top public health official said Sunday as the province reported more than 1,000 new cases for the first time.
In a statement, Dr. Eileen de Villa said urged Torontonians to limit contact as much as possible to people they live with, advice she’d been repeating since infections started to rise.
“The virus spreads person to person. It needs us,” de Villa said.
“If we limit our exposure to people, we limit the virus’s ability to spread.”
Her statement comes after Ontario reached a grim milestone, setting a high of daily new cases with 1,042 on Sunday.
A spokesperson for the Ministry of Health said in a statement that the cases may be the result of Thanksgiving gatherings.
“We will continue to monitor the situation and take swift action as needed to limit the transmission of COVID-19, keep our schools and economy open, and protect our most vulnerable,” the ministry said.
The province imposed modified stage 2 restrictions on Toronto, Ottawa, Peel and York regions to curb the spread of the virus. Premier Doug Ford previously said a decision is expected on Monday on whether Halton and Durham regions will join those areas.
Toronto Public Health reported 346 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, bringing the city’s total to 26,508. Of those cases, 1,350 have died, while 22,286 have recovered from the disease.
Toronto’s positivity rate on COVID-19 tests is at 4.4 per cent, which is nearly double the 2.5 per cent high alert threshold set by the province.
It is also above the 3 per cent goal cited by TPH. De Villa said last week that she is concerned that its upward climb is not over.
While it has been two weeks since Toronto was placed under a modified Stage 2, de Villa said it will take some more time to assess the success of the move.
That’s why she is urging residents to continue with their self-protection measures, including physical distancing and wearing masks.
“In the meantime, I cannot stress enough how much rests on the decisions we make as individuals,” de Villa said.
“We did this before. We forced back the rise in infections last spring.”
Mayor John Tory said he spoke to Dr. de Villa, Ford and other community leaders this weekend to continue coordinating the city’s response to the ongoing COVID-19 resurgence.
The mayor said he is hopeful that the measures put in place to slow the spread of the virus will produce positive results and begin to manifest in the coming days.
“The most valuable contributions individual Torontonians can make right now is to follow public health advice to stop the spread of the virus: wear a mask, wash your hands, and, except for work and school, only spend time with the people you live with,” Tory said in a statement.
“We are working non-stop to confront the COVID-19 virus.”