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Ontario Medical Association says all elective surgery to be put on hold

Last Updated Mar 15, 2020 at 5:07 pm EDT

Medical instruments are seen on a tray during surgery. UNSPLASH/Olga Kononenko

The Ontario Medical Association (OMA) said on Sunday all non-essential care and elective surgery will temporarily be put on hold as the province directs its efforts towards battling COVID-19.

In an email sent to Ontario medical staff, the OMA said the “difficult decision” was made “to protect all health-care providers, patients and the public, and most importantly, to manage what we expect may be tremendous demand on the system from spread of the virus. ”

The email also included social distancing guidelines for doctors including asking them to refrain from travel outside Canada. Any events involving doctors and face-to-face meetings were also postponed.

In addition, the email says the OMA is working with the Ministry of Health to develop a “virtual walk-in clinic” for patients referred from Telehealth Ontario.

Government urges hospitals to postpone some surgeries

The Ontario government urged hospitals to postpone all elective surgeries.

Health Minister Christine Elliott tweeted on Sunday that the government is encouraging hospitals to start implementing additional steps in their pandemic plans.

To that end, it says hospitals should start “carefully ramping down” optional surgeries.

Elliott says doing so will allow the facilities to be better able to deal with the COVID-19 outbreak.