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Local spread of coronavirus confirmed in Toronto; city urges continued social distancing

Last Updated Mar 21, 2020 at 7:59 pm EDT

A woman washing her hands to protect herself from the Coronavirus in a village at Barpeta district of Assam in India on Friday, March 20, 2020. (Photo by David Talukdar/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Summary

COVID-19 is spreading locally, Dr. Eileen de Villa said Saturday


City is expecting an influx of new cases as travellers return to Toronto because of the March break


The city is warning people to not gather in parks and that playground equipment is not being sanitized


Toronto’s chief medical officer of health confirmed Saturday that community transmission of the coronavirus is occurring in the city.

Dr. Eileen de Villa made the comments at a Saturday afternoon press conference.

“Yes, we do see community transmission,” de Villa said, adding the city has seen 193 confirmed cases and 10 people are in the hospital due to the COVID-19 virus.

Dr. de Villa said they expect to see an influx of new cases as Canadians return from abroad because of the March break. She urged travellers to self-isolate for 14 days.

“My message to returning travellers is to stay home for 14 days, even if you don’t have symptoms,” she said.

The city also urged people to continue to follow social distancing guidelines and work from home if possible.

The city also cautioned people who gather in parks that they are putting others at risk for infection.

“While exercise and enjoying the outdoors is important for those who are not self-isolating, these gatherings may pose a risk to the health of families and the wider community,” the city said. “To that end, the City will begin erecting signage near playgrounds reminding the public of the importance of social distancing and that playgrounds are not sanitized.”

Toronto Fire Chief Matthew Pegg, who is the head of the city’s Office of Emergency Management, says a number of complaints and requests for law enforcement continue to be recieved.

Chief Pegg said approximately two per cent of the calls to 311 are for these types of complaints. He said that while they would investigate people and businesses that fail to comply with the provincial emergency orders, it is police – and not by-law officers – who would administer any fines or charges.

“These are very serious,” said Pegg. “An individual found guilty of violating these orders is subject to a fine of up to $100,000 and imprisonment of up to one year. A director or officer of a corporation who is found guilty of violating these orders is subject to a fine of up to $500,000 and imprisonment of up to one year. A corporation who is found guilty of violating these orders is subject to a fine of up to $10 million.”