Rise in COVID-19 cases isn’t unexpected: Toronto’s top doctor answers COVID-19 related questions
Web Staff, CP24.com
Published Wednesday, September 9, 2020 9:57PM EDT
As COVID-19 cases creep upwards across the province, Toronto’s top doctor says the rise in new infections was expected as the cold and flu season approaches.
“I think we've always expected that with further reopening and with more interactions between people, knowing how the virus spreads from one infected person to another, and that infected person may not have any symptoms, with more people mixing with each other and more openings, we were expecting to see some case increase,” Dr. Eileen de Villa, Toronto's medical officer of health, said in an interview with CP24 Wednesday afternoon.
De Villa said there is no threshold or amount of new infections that would prompt health officials to tighten current health and safety regulations regarding the virus.
She added that the main focus is to continue following health guidelines to slow the spread of the virus, including physical distancing, washing your hands and wearing a mask.
“The question now is whether we can keep up our measures well enough to prevent us from having to do further public health measures or to go back to the kind of significant public health measures we had to put in place in the spring, nobody wants to go there,’’ de Villa said.
On Wednesday, the province reported 149 new cases of the virus and zero new deaths, a drop from new infections reported over the long weekend.
Ontario reported 185 cases on Monday and 190 on Sunday, the highest daily case counts seen since July 24.
De Villa joined CP24 to answer your questions about school reopening and other COVID-19 issues.
CP24: I just do not get it. Authorities are calling for shutdowns because of spikes in COVID-19, but are sending children back to school.
De Villa: The short and simple answer is that, look, kids have a lot of benefits, there are a lot of good benefits to having our children in school and it's not just about education. There's a social development, you know, services that are provided to school. And these kinds of things are really important to our children's health...The best thing we can do as a community to have our kids be successful in getting the benefits of school is to keep our community rates of disease low. Hence, I keep asking people, you know, watch your distance, wear your mask, wash your hands, do all those things that keep virus transmission low, and we will be able to manage this balance as successfully and as safely as possible.
CP24: Should this year's original Santa Claus parade, which is set for November 15 2020 in downtown Toronto, be cancelled for this year because of COVID-19?
De Villa: We're constantly monitoring the situation and trying to make the best decisions to offer the best advice in striking that balance between making sure that we're doing the best we can to control COVID-19 and recognizing that there are other aspects of life that also have to continue in which we're trying to foster, so stay tuned.
CP24: With children and kids going back to school and childcare centres in the coming cold and flu season, many kids will catch the common cold. This means kids will have a runny nose, for example, for days or even weeks when the childcare centres have a current policy in place to keep kids home until 24 hours of symptom-free, even with a negative COVID test. How can parents continue to work if their kids are sent home for possibly weeks before their child is clear. Will the guidelines change to accommodate these situations, of course with a negative covid test?
De Villa: No simple answer here. Some of these policies are specific to given locations, and given childcare settings and or schools. So, there are unique circumstances that will need to be abided by for specific childcare settings. But I think if we try to look at this as, look, we're all trying to take care of each other as best we can take care of ourselves, certainly in our families, but this is part of our obligation, and our need to take care of our community. So, you know, what we're hoping though, and what we've seen from other jurisdictions, is that when we take these measures, when we follow public health measures to reduce COVID-19 transmission, fortunately, what happens in so doing is that we limit transmission of other respiratory viruses as well.
CP24: I'm the grandmother to three grandsons, two go to one school and the little one goes to another one. What is the threat to grandparents now that school is starting? Would it be okay to drive my grandsons to school every morning?
De Villa: First and foremost, I think that it will all depend on what the unique circumstances are here. You know, are there chronic conditions that this, you know, grandmother has as you know well intentioned as she is. Is this a risk that makes sense for her circumstances? I think that's a decision that each individual family needs to make for itself...When you're driving though, driving grandchildren in the car, there are methods that can be taken to reduce the risk…You can open the windows, people can wear masks, washing your hands. And you know, keeping the distance where possible, actually also helps.”
CP24: Why are ice rinks allowed to be open for people to play hockey? I’m not understanding how that’s safe since people are breathing hard when they're on the ice. And it's hard to maintain a social distance on the ice and especially on the crowded bench. Doesn't hockey break the social distancing rules, since you're not wearing masks on the ice and bench?
De Villa: I think this is another one of those examples when we're trying to find the balance. So, where possible practice public health measures recognizing that that can't always be done perfectly in these kinds of facilities, but as much as possible. It's the best thing we can do to protect ourselves and those around us.