Health Minister Christine Elliot says that the province needs to be “prepared for a rapid change of circumstances” in its hospitals as the COVID-19 outbreak worsens.

Elliot made the comment during a one-on-one interview with CP24 on Tuesday; just hours after Premier Doug Ford declared a state of emergency and ordered the closure of bars, restaurants that don’t offer takeout and a host of other venues.

“Our system is operating well right now but we do have a plan in place should the hospitals become very busy very quickly,” she said. “We have been fortunate so far that the vast majority of people who have tested positive have been able to be treated at home with self-isolation but we know we have to be prepared should that change and people require hospitalization and require ventilation equipment.”

There have been 186 cases of COVID-19 confirmed in Ontario so far, including nine new cases that were added to the tally on Tuesday morning.

Elliot said that the province has seen a “significant increase” in in the number of cases in recent days, proving that “further action” will be needed to “flatten the curve.”

She said that should the number of cases continues to rise, it may even be possible that Ontario will have to turn to other jurisdictions for help, including additional medical professions.

“It may need to come to that but that is not being contemplated right now. I know all the other provinces are very concerned about the residents in their territories so we are managing from within Ontario but we certainly have had offers from some retired people, retired nurses and so, to come help out. So we are looking at all options and we are planning accordingly.”

Elliot’s comments on Tuesday come in the wake of the province announcing more than $300 million in funding for the medical system to ramp up its COVID-19 response.

The money will pay for 75 more critical care beds and 500 new post-acute care beds. It will also allow the province to open up an additional 25 dedicated COVID-19 assessment centres.