Toronto Public Health (TPH) is planning for a potential resurgence of COVID-19 this fall and winter and plans are taking shape to double down on contact tracing and other measures to quell the spread.
The agency provided the city’s Board of Health an update Monday about their planning which is based on how a potential second wave plays out.
In a statement, Board of Health Chair Joe Cressy said Toronto does not have to accept a “significant second wave” because the city can build on lessons learned during the first and act accordingly.
TPH plans include approaches based on three different scenarios for COVID-19 activity in the city:
- A fall/winter peak
- A series of smaller peaks and valleys, that repeat throughout the season
- A ‘slow burn’ ripple effect, where there are continued cases but without a concrete pattern
Cressy said while it isn’t possible to predict which scenario will occur, the goal is to try to create a “manageable and safe prolonged ripple effect.”
“This means that while we will continue to see new cases, there will not be surges that cannot be contained or threaten the stability of our health care system,” he said.
To that end, TPH is taking the following steps:
- Expanding case and contact tracing
- Enhancing the response model for long term care homes
- Developing multilingual Community Outreach Rapid Response Teams to support hard-hit communities
- Finalizing details of a voluntary isolation centre with the federal government for those who cannot safely self-isolate at home
- Rolling out an aggressive flu vaccine program to protect the capacity of the health care system as we head into flu season
In addition, with schools reopening soon, TPH is hiring more public health nurses to provide “on-the-ground support” to schools and school boards. Agency staff is also providing advice, training and education about infection control measures and how to monitor safety protocols in schools.
Cressy reiterated the importance of social distancing, wearing masks, washing your hands and getting a flu shot as continued measures to keep the virus from spreading and overwhelming the city’s healthcare system.