With the province of Quebec heading into full lockdown and curfew this weekend, on Thursday, CTV’s Craig Momney spoke with Dr. Michael Lisi, the Chief of Staff at Collingwood General and Marine Hospital, about what to expect should COVID-19 cases continue to climb.

Craig Momney: Hot spots, including York Region, have been in lockdown for weeks. Why are they still seeing record numbers of COVID-19.?

Dr. Michael Lisi:  We continue to see a record number of cases as it’s believed that many people are not following the rules and are not sticking to their households.

With Christmas gatherings, New Year’s parties, family visits and other indoor gatherings where people met indoors and were unmasked, you know the virus can spread really easily, and those are the situations where that happens.

Locally, we are now seeing an increase in the infections as a result of that.

Craig Momney: Now that we are about two weeks removed from Christmas, what do you expect to see with the numbers, and what are you watching closely for over the next few weeks?

Dr. Michael Lisi: The next few months will likely be the worst of this entire pandemic.

We’re going to be closely watching ICU bed capacity across southern Ontario and the provincial COVID numbers.

You know, Quebec is now going into a complete hard lockdown with nightly curfews, and if our numbers don’t improve very soon, there’s a really strong potential that you’re going to see that and those types of stronger measures here in Ontario.

Craig Momney: How concerning are the newest strains of COVID-19 coming out of Britain and South Africa?

Dr. Michael Lisi: This is very concerning. There are new studies that are now estimating the strain could be up to 70 per cent more infectious than the current strain, which means stopping the spread of the virus will be even harder.

The only way out of this is to really continue following public health rules for the next few months and then get vaccinated as soon as that vaccine arrives in larger numbers in the spring.

You really don’t want to be the person hospitalized with COVID, of suffering with the so-called long-haul symptoms only a few months before that vaccine arrives.

Craig Momney: What are your concerns about the delay in getting people vaccinated while some doses sit in freezers?

Dr. Michael Lisi: There are individuals that need this vaccine; we all need this to get this in check.

Having said that, they are great hurdles to rolling out this process of vaccination, and I completely understand the challenges that exist there. And so we really need to focus as a community doing our part, which is following our public health rules and allowing our team members who are helping with the rollout to really maximize the efficiencies of rolling that vaccine out.

We can do this, and it’s a progress, and I’m proud of the work we’ve done so far.

There are still things that need to be done to improve, and I think the teams are focused on that and are working towards improvement.