Toronto

Travellers returning from March break 'must stay home,' Toronto's medical officer of health says

Toronto medical officer of health Dr. Eileen de Villa is reminding people returning from March break that ignoring the stipulated 14-day self-isolation is not an option, as the city works to contain the spread of COVID-19 and protect the public.

'We're asking you to do this to protect yourselves, your families and our community,' says Dr. Eileen de Villa

Toronto medical officer of health Dr. Eileen de Villa says people returning from March break must stay home for 14 days. (Rozenn Nicolle/Radio-Canada)

Toronto's medical officer of health Dr. Eileen de Villa is reminding anyone who travelled over March break that ignoring the stipulated 14-day self-isolation is not an option, as the city works to slow the spread of COVID-19.

At a news conference Friday evening, de Villa said that as of 1 p.m., there were 161 cases of COVID-19 in Toronto, of which 10 people are currently hospitalized.

That total includes three cases de Villa called "concerning," including a person experiencing homelessness, a Toronto paramedic, and a resident of a city-run long-term care home.

"At this time, many people will soon be returning to our city from March break vacation or travel. Given our current circumstances, I do need these individuals to listen very carefully. If you are returning from travel, you must stay home for 14 days, even if you do not have symptoms of illness," de Villa said.

"We're asking you to do this to protect yourselves, your families and our community."

De Villa said the "strong recommendation" was made because people travelling back from March Break are likely to have visited areas where COVID-19 is circulating.

"If you know somebody who is returning from March Break, please, tell them to stay home and help them to be successful in doing this. Be a good family member, be a good neighbour or be a good friend... We all have a responsibility to stop this virus together," de Villa added.

'Amazing effort' at social distancing

With calls from all three levels of government for people to observe social distancing, de Villa said the majority of people and business operators in the city are heeding the call.

"I am most pleased to share that in our compliance of bars and restaurants, with provincial orders and direction, we found that 0.3 per cent of the businesses we looked at were not in compliance," de Villa said.

'This is an amazing effort, and I sincerely thank our local business community for getting behind social distancing. I'm asking everyone again to make every effort and to take every opportunity to practice social distancing. Stay home, stay safe and take care of each other."

General manager for the city's office of emergency management, Matthew Pegg, says a number of proactive measures have been initiated in support of individuals experiencing homlessness. (CBC)

Meanwhile, the general manager for the city's office of emergency management, Matthew Pegg, said the City of Toronto Shelter Support and Housing Administration has initiated a number of proactive measures in support of individuals experiencing homelessness.

"We have opened five new facilities in order to facilitate social distancing as recommended by Toronto Public Health. It is a temporary space to support social distancing recommendations," Pegg said at the new conference.

He said the city has also established one new isolation site for people undergoing COVID-19 testing, secured hotel capacity for the family sector, and secured one additional site to shelter those who require 14-day self-isolation as a result of travel.

Pegg said screening for both illness and travel history is being conducted as part of the shelter intake process both by phone and in person. 

"Anyone who is identified as requiring further health assessment through this screening process is being referred to one of the provinces assessment centres before being admitted to the shelter," he explained.

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