Toronto now with an advantage over virus with Rt number below 1: de Villa

De Villa 2

While cautioning we need more data and to remain vigilant with our public health measures, Toronto’s chief medical officer of health said key indicators of COVID-19 show some hope. 

On Thursday, Dr. Eileen de Villa reported for the first time in months that Toronto’s reproductive number (Rt) was below 1 at 0.86. 

“This means that overall, each new case of COVID-19 is resulting in less than one additional new infection,” she said. “Practically speaking, it means that we have a slight advantage over the virus, rather than the virus having the advantage over us.” 

There’s also been a further decline for Toronto’s seven-day moving average, now at 730, down from 772 at De Villa’s last report from earlier this week. 

Dr. de Villa stressed that while lower case rates and counts are what everyone wants to see, there has to be a more consistent pattern. 

“The tide has not yet turned,” she said. “Staying home, limiting our interaction with people we don’t live and keeping a safe and masked distance when we are in circumstances where that's not possible, all this remains as vital as ever.”

The city trends also reflect provincial ones, as Ontario’s Associate Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Barbara Yaffe spoke shortly after de Villa. 

“Our provincial case rate has shown a decline for the first time since mid-November, but it still remains high,” she said, at 145.4 cases per 100,000 people.

Ontario’s testing positivity rate is also down to 5.3 per cent, from 6.3 per cent a week before. 

And the provincial Rt value is slightly above Toronto’s, at 0.87. 

“Overall, the case rates in most of our public health regions are also improving,” she said, with most units seeing decreasing rates, though they remain high. 

Yaffe echoed de Villa’s statement that it’s too early to determine if the current numbers represent a real trend. 

“Another week or two of data will be required to assess the trajectory,” she said,. 

Earlier this week, COVID19 biostatistician analyzed the province’s 34 health units, also reporting a majority with Rt numbers trending or already below 1. 

“Nobody likes lockdowns, but the fact of the matter is they work,” he said on Monday regarding lowering transmission. .

Imgrund said the data as of Sunday reflected the impact of the Boxing Day lockdown and projected by the end of this week, values could be 0.9 or below due to the impacts of the stay-at-home order restrictions.