Ontario ramping up testing, hospital capacity as new restrictions take effect in Peel Region
The Ford government is adding new testing sites, acute care beds at hospitals and contact tracers in Peel Region as more public health restrictions took effect overnight to counter surging COVID-19 infection rates.
Health Minister Christine Elliott says existing COVID-19 assessment centres in Peel will resume taking walk-ins for people who cannot book appointments online.
Three new assessment centres will be set up in the next 24 hours – at Snelgrove Community Centre, Gore Meadows Community Centre and Library, and Greenbriar Recreation Centre.
The three new sites will be operational in the next 24 hours, Elliott said.
There will also be a new pop-up testing site at CMHA of Peel Dufferin at 7700 Hurontario Street.
Peel, and more specifically Brampton, has seen hundreds of new coronavirus cases in recent days, with test positivity rates reaching 10 per cent in Brampton in late October.
The region entered the Red or “Control,” the second-highest of five levels of COVID-19 restrictions developed by Ontario this month, on Saturday
Peel’s Medical Officer of Health Dr. Lawrence Loh enacted further measures that took effect this morning, forcing banquet halls to close, gyms already allowed to open with limited capacity to go appointment only, and indoor dining to only accept diners at a table who belong to the same household.
Elliott said she welcomed Loh’s measures, as local medical officers of health are able to “tailor” the response to the needs of the community.
In addition, she said the province would spend $42 million more to add 234 more acute and critical care hospital beds at Trillium Health Partners in Mississauga, William Osler Health System in Peel and north Etobicoke, and Headwaters Healthcare in Caledon.
William Osler Health System recently said it would struggle to accept new COVID-19 patients, with close to 100 confirmed or suspected patients.
They will also hire 70 more contact tracers for Peel Region, and order 10 other public health units seeing low rates of transmission to make contact tracing calls on their behalf.
Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams said the new resources would help residents have greater access to testing.
“We had to add more resources in an area like Peel to allow individuals to do more to reduce their risk,” he said. “We have to have a really good response by the public to bring this down under control.”
Liberal leader Steven Del Duca slammed Ford and Elliott’s handling of the spike in Peel, questioning why indoor dining should resume at a time where the region is seeing near record-level case growth.
“Peel’s top doctor says the region is the hardest hit in Ontario. With zero help from Doug Ford, Peel has moved forward with their own enhanced measures to halt the growing spread of COVID-19. Thank goodness they have the courage to overrule Doug Ford.”
Brampton continues to plead for isolation centre
Although the provincial public health supports will provide needed assistance to Brampton, Mayor Patrick Brown is reiterating the need for federal support to create an isolation centre for essential workers.
Brown spoke to CP24 before Elliott’s announcement on Monday and acknowledged that COVID-19 continues to spread rapidly among essential workers.
Brown said he is continuing to plead with Ottawa and the province for an isolation centre for these workers as many can’t afford, or do not have the required space in their homes to isolate for 14 days if infected with the virus.
“Unlike Toronto where there are a lot of cases coming from the hospitality sector, our number one area of spread has been industrial settings and we don’t have an isolating centre yet. We’ve been pleading to try and get help from the federal government to have an isolation centre like the one they have in Toronto and we don’t have that yet,” Brown said.
Brown added that the additional restrictions Dr. Loh enacted in Peel starting today will help to curb virus spread, and that the advice should be taken seriously.
“Asking households not to mix, having neighbours not going over to their neighbour’s house, asking places of worship to consider virtual services. Those aren’t municipal bylaws, it’s the advice of the medical officer of health, it’s a little bit different. There’s not a mechanism to issue fines. But we do hope that people take the medical officer of health’s advice to heart,” he said.