Nearly one year into the pandemic, Brampton plans to open the city’s first COVID-19 isolation centres “very soon,” the city's mayor Patrick Brown confirmed Wednesday.
During a weekly news conference, Brown thanked the provincial government for stepping up to provide funding for three isolation centres in Brampton, which will provide residents a safe place to self-isolate if they contract COVID-19.
"I had previously expressed frustration that the federal government had funded isolation centres in Mississauga and Toronto, and Brampton, being one of the hardest hit regions in the country, hadn't had our request for an isolation centre (approved)," he said.
"It was great news when I got a note in late December that the provincial government was going to come to the table and fund isolation centres in Brampton."
The province has earmarked $42 million to establish isolation centres in some municipalities that have the highest rates of transmission, including Peel Region.
Brown said the centres, which will be located in Bramalea and northeast Brampton, should be opening shortly.
"Why that is so important is if you look in Brampton, we have crowded living conditions, and if someone lives with two or three people, it might not be hard to isolate in a different part of the house, but if you live with 10 people, it is virtually impossible," he said.
"So having this tool, having this option of a location to safely isolate, is critical."
He noted that many residents do not have the means to pay for separate accommodations if they are infected.
"In many cases, people in precarious employment or who work for temp agencies in an essential setting can't afford a hotel room for 14 days, don't have an option for a safe place to isolate," Brown said.
Peel Region is one of the areas of the province that has consistently seen high rates of infection. On Wednesday, the province reported 523 new COVID-19 cases in the region over the past 24 hours.
Peel Region's Medical Officer of Health Dr. Lawrence Loh said Wednesday that he is "deeply concerned" with the number of cases that have been reported in the region over the past week.
"We must continue to take action to save lives to prevent our hospitals from seeing disaster and allow us to bring COVID-19 to a more controllable level to guarantee the success of our immunization programs," he said.
"Only then, will we be able to reopen with confidence and minimize broader social and economic impacts that this disaster continues to have on our community."