Stay-at-home order extended until Feb. 22 in Toronto as city sees 421 new COVID-19 cases
Dr. Eileen de Villa says variants of concern may lead to 'a new pandemic'
The City of Toronto is reporting 421 new cases of COVID-19, with 414 people in hospital, 94 in intensive care units and 13 deaths, according to Toronto's Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Eileen de Villa.
The city says the transition to the province's reporting system is "largely complete" with full reporting expected by later Monday afternoon.
The city's top doctor also said the novel coronavirus variants of concern being discovered in Toronto are creating a situation of "great uncertainty"
"We are in the transition of one pandemic to another — a transition to a new pandemic," she said.
The city confirmed its first cases of coronavirus variants first discovered in Brazil and South Africa on Sunday. There have already been other cases of a variant first discovered in the U.K.
This comes after Premier Doug Ford said earlier today a stay-at-home order will remain in place for Toronto until at least Feb. 22.
As part of the province's announcement, Ontario said non-essential retailers in the grey-lockdown zones will be allowed to open their doors with a 25 per cent capacity limit. The government said the move is to "support the province's economic recovery." No date for the re-opening was announced.
De Villa says from a public health perspective, now is not the time to be lifting restrictions in the city.
"Decisions to re-open do not come with guarantees, except that cases of COVID-19 will rise when we interact again more frequently," de Villa said.
"If as expected, variants of concern become the dominant strain... there is an even greater likelihood of case counts increasing," she said.
De Villa said modelling from the Canadian Centre for Disease modelling at York University shows — based on transmission rates seen in Toronto in mid- to late-January — Toronto's death toll could rise to almost 5,500 by May if the transmission rate remains the same.
"If transmission increases by 10 per cent, the model finds Toronto's death toll could rise to slightly more than 9,200," de Villa said.
The same applies to some other businesses, including discount and big box retailers, liquor stores, hardware stores and garden centres.
Retailers will also need to have a system in place for "patron screening," the province said.
Meanwhile, the 50 per cent capacity limit for in-person shopping at essential retailers, such as supermarkets and other stores that primarily sell groceries, as well as convenience stores and pharmacies, will stay in place.
Personal care services, however, are to remain closed.