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Health officials say situation is 'dire' as Ontario COVID cases continue to climb

Last Updated Apr 15, 2021 at 6:33 pm EDT

Dr. Barbara Yaffe, Associate Chief Medical Officer of Health for Ontario attends a news conference in Toronto, on Monday, January 27, 2020, as officials provide an update on the coronavirus in Canada. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

Ontario’s COVID-19 situation is “dire,” one of the province’s top doctors said Thursday as the government considered new restrictions to deal with an alarming rise in cases.

Hours after the province set a new record for daily infections – logging 4,736 cases – Dr. Barbara Yaffe, Ontario’s associate medical officer of health, said she had never seen things so bad.

“Unfortunately, our situation is dire,” she said.

“At some of the previous press conferences I have referred to the situation as worrisome, and even scary. What is truly scary is that when I used those words before, our rates and our trends were nowhere near where we find ourselves today.”

Ontario’s seven-day average for daily cases had jumped by 36 per cent in one week – to 4,208, Yaffe said.

The 1,932 people currently hospitalized with COVID-19 and 659 in intensive care are both record highs, she noted, highlighting the immense pressure on the health-care system.

New public health restrictions – on top of Ontario’s current stay-at-home order and closure of in-person schooling – will be required and have been recommended to cabinet, Yaffe said.

The measures, which Yaffe did not elaborate on, are based on data gathered by the province’s science advisors and take into account efforts that have worked in other jurisdictions, she said.

“Remember what things were like last spring, when we had the stay-at-home order and what the streets were like, they were pretty much empty. They’re not empty these days. We have to go back to that, we have to think about it the way we did then,” she said.