Christmas during COVID-19 'not the time to hold social gatherings,' public health says

The region's medical officer of health signed a joint statement saying Christmas is 'not the time to hold social gatherings in person, inside or outside, with anyone outside your household.'

Region reported 180 new cases of COVID-19 over weekend

A woman walks by a Santa Claus statue wearing a face mask. Several medical officers of health in southern Ontario have written a joint statement calling for people to avoid social gatherings with anyone outside a person's household this Christmas to curb the spread of COVID-19. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Several medical officers of health in the province, including the region's Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang, say people need to cancel all plans to gather socially with people outside their households this Christmas.

"We want to be clear. No matter where you live, the upcoming holidays are not the time to hold social gatherings in person, inside or outside, with anyone outside your household," said the statement, signed by Wang, as well as six other medical officers of health from Toronto, Hamilton, Niagara and Windsor.

"We know it has been a stressful and difficult year with the COVID-19 pandemic causing uncertainty and losses in our communities and in all aspects of our lives," the medical officers said. "In the true spirit of the season, please keep supporting each other, be kind and stay in this together."

They remind people to wash their hands frequently, maintain a physical distance of at least two meters from people outside a person's household, to wear masks when near others and to stay home unless making an essential trip such as going to the grocery store, a doctor's appointment or work.

180 cases over weekend

Region of Waterloo Public Health reported 180 new cases of COVID-19 over the weekend: 84 on Saturday and 96 on Sunday.

That brings the total number of cases in December so far to 1,421, just slightly below the 1,432 in November, which set a new record for the highest number of new cases reported in a month in the region.

Over the weekend, the region also surpassed 5,000 cases, now reporting 5,077 cases since March.

Two people's COVID-related deaths were reported over the weekend, bringing the total to 142 since March.

There are 571 active cases with 38 people in hospital and 12 of those people listed as being in the intensive care unit. 

There are also 28 active outbreaks in the region including seven in long-term care or retirement homes and 10 in workplaces.

The province is expected to announce sweeping new public health measures later on Monday to curb the climbing number of COVID-19 cases and increasing strain on hospitals.