“Shut it down.”

That’s the message from an intensive care unit doctor at Michael Garron Hospital, who says that the various levels of government need to do more to enforce a policy of “social distancing” amid a growing number of COVID-19 cases locally.

Michael Warner wrote an open letter to colleagues last week warning them that the COVID-19 situation “is dire and may soon be out of control” unless further actions are taken.

He then reiterated that message in an interview with CP24 on Monday afternoon.

Despite unprecedented action to shut down schools, childcare centres, recreation centres, arenas and libraries, Warner says that more needs to be done to keep people separated and limit the spread of the virus.

“My perspective as an front line physician who will be in the intensive care unit intubating patients who will get coronanvirus in Ontario is that now is not the time to be cautious,” he said. “It is the time to be definitive in action. If this is an overreaction I don’t think anyone would begrudge policymakers for trying to keep us safe. We have lots of evidence from what has happened in China and what has happened in Italy that it is very important to practice social distancing now.”

Policymakers in Ontario have warned residents to avoid group gatherings and to practice “social distancing” when possible, though they have not implemented the more restrictive measures in place in some European countries, such as ordering non-essential businesses to close.

Speaking with CP24, Warner said that “physicians on the front line are a day or two ahead of the news cycle” and are increasingly hoping that government leaders “take decisive action now to shut things down” in a more formal way.

He said that if the province and the country can be successful in “smoothing the curve” and slowing down the spread of virus, hospitals may be able to “maintain capacity for those who really need it.”

If not, he predicted that the consequence could be significant.

“I am concerned about resources. On our best days we run at 100 per cent capacity,” he said. “We have limits on ventilators, limits on ICU nurses, limits on ICU physicians as well as limits on the people who support us. Unfortunately there will be people with illnesses unrelated to coronavirus who may not get the treatment they need because we will have such an influx of patients.”