TORONTO — Canada’s most populous city has imposed a mandatory home quarantine on residents infected with COVID-19, as officials move to “aggressively halt” the spread of the virus.
Toronto Mayor John Tory says the new measures, recommended by the city’s chief medical officer, were to be implemented immediately and remain in place for up to 12 weeks.
They include an order that all those infected with COVID-19 stay home for 14 days, as well as anyone who has come in contact with them.
Those who are not ill and have not travelled are “strongly directed” to stay home, except to access health care, do a weekly grocery shop, exercise or walk their dogs.
The more aggressive tone came as the city’s public health agency announced that six more residents infected with COVID-19 had died at an east-end long-term care home, bringing the total there to eight.
The new deaths at Seven Oaks Long-Term Care Home were reported overnight Tuesday, said Toronto Public Health spokeswoman Dr. Elizabeth Rea.
She said 23 people at the facility have been diagnosed with the virus: 14 residents, including the deceased, and nine staff members.
Another 54 residents likely have the illness but have not officially been diagnosed, Rea said.
Seven Oaks is one of 18 long-term care facilities in the city reporting cases of COVID-19.
The city’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Eileen de Villa, says she will use every power legally available to her to help curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.
She notes that two weeks ago, there were 145 cases of COVID-19 in Toronto, with 10 in hospital and no deaths. As of Wednesday, she said, the city has 818 cases, with 75 in hospital and 19 deaths.
“In terms of our case counts, in the last two weeks, we have seen a more than 500 per cent increase,” she said in a news conference Wednesday.
“This is not a favourable trajectory … I am deeply concerned.”
City officials urged the public to adhere to the new orders and recommendations, adding fines could be issued for non-compliance.
More measures may be imposed as needed in the future, they said.
“If we do not take these actions today, the city will see substantially increased loss of life, and may not begin to recover, economically and as a society, until the end of 2020,” the city said in a news release.
— With files from Nicole Thompson
This report by The Canadian Press was first published on April 1, 2020.
Paola Loriggio, The Canadian Press