New top public health doctor, new perspective, says Dr. Gandhi

Ontario posted its lowest single-day COVID-19 case numbers Monday as the province prepares to replace its top public health doctor, a move Dr. Sohail Gandhi says could bring a new perspective to the pandemic.

Gandhi, past president of the Ontario Medical Association, says he hopes Dr. Kieran Moore's transition into the role of chief medical officer of health will shift the focus to other issues outside of COVID-19.

"I think a big challenge for Dr. Moore is going to be to recognize that there are all these other health care issues that really need to be tackled now that thankfully our COVID numbers are tracking down," says Gandhi.

Moore has been serving as the top doctor in Kingston, which has been widely praised for its handling of the pandemic. The province's current chief medical officer of health, Dr. David Williams, was slated to retire in September, but his last day has been accelerated by several months.

The declining COVID-10 case counts are proof, according to Gandhi, that the province's vaccination campaign is working.

While the news is positive, Gandhi cautions residents to wait to be fully vaccinated before resuming normal activities.

"I'd encourage people to say maybe we can have some safe, outdoor gatherings but not go indoors, which is still more than we were able to do before," he says. "So I encourage people to take it in a step-wise manner, recognizing that we're climbing a long set of stairs here. Let's just take one step at a time, and we're going to get there."

The province-wide stay-at-home order is set to expire on Wednesday, leaving Gandhi among many doctors advocating for the resumption of in-person learning and allowing some segments of the economy to begin to reopen.

"I really think that we're in a circumstance right now where we can start letting some small businesses reopen as the stay-at-home order expires because the small businesses were never really the source of the COVID outbreaks we saw," Gandhi says.

Meanwhile, Gandhi admits he sadly couldn't get a ticket himself to the Toronto Maple Leaf's Game 7 Monday night; but adds it's another sign of optimism that more than 500 fully vaccinated health-care workers could attend.