Residents should continue to work remotely, avoid large gatherings amid 'turbulent' fourth wave: Peel's top doctor

Peel Region Paramedic Ryan Kingsborough, administers a dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, at a one-day pop-up vaccination clinic at the Muslim Neighbour Nexus Mosque, in Mississauga, Ont., on Thursday, April 29, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Christopher Katsarov

Peel’s top doctor is urging residents to continue to work remotely if they can and avoid large indoor gatherings as the region moves through what he promises will be the “turbulent final part of the acute phase” of COVID-19.

Medical Officer of Health Dr. Lawrence Loh made the comment during a briefing at Brampton city hall on Wednesday morning as he outlined several ways that residents can reduce their contacts and help limit the spread of COVID-19 amid a Delta-driven fourth wave of the pandemic.

The Ontario Science Advisory Table has previously said that Ontarians must reduce their contacts from 83 per cent of pre-pandemic levels to roughly 70 per cent of pre-pandemic levels in order to avoid a surge in cases and hospitalizations that could overwhelm our health-care system once again.

“I know that for those who have gotten both doses of vaccine the advice to reduce contacts may be difficult to hear especially as we had all hoped that by doing the right thing we would get back to normal. But the truth is that while you being vaccinated fully are at a lower risk there are unfortunately still many others in our community who have not had the chance to be vaccinated and they remain susceptible to severe illness, hospitalization and death,” Loh said. “Normal will ultimately only come when this virus ceases to be novel or new to the vast majority of us and that will only happen when enough people, almost everyone in our community, has been exposed either through vaccination or infection.”

Case counts across Ontario have risen steadily over the last few months but there has been a slight decline in the rolling-seven day average in recent days.

Loh said that while the risk posed by the more infectious Delta variant is immense, he continues to believe that widespread closures are not necessary at this time and that the worst-case scenario can be averted through increased immunization and a reduction in contacts.

More than 75 per cent of eligible Peel residents are fully vaccinated, however hundreds of thousands still haven’t received their first dose.

“There are practical ways that you can reduce contacts for the moment. These include continuing to work remotely if you can, keeping gatherings small and favouring the outdoors, avoiding large gatherings and crowded indoor spaces with poor ventilation and considering virtual visits instead of in-person visits,” Loh said. “I know that we are all tired of this. But for now with so many residents still susceptible all of us must remain vigilant as we move through this turbulent final part of the acute phase, regardless of our vaccination status.”

There were another 33 COVID-19 patients admitted to Peel Region hospitals over the last week, up from 24 the previous week.

The positivity rate in Brampton also continues to rise and now stands at 5 per cent.