RNAO continues to express grave concern regarding the worsening situation with the second wave of COVID-19 in Ontario

As discussed last week, RNAO continues to urge faster and stronger action than reflected in the current colour-coded COVID-19 Response Framework. RNAO is calling for a province-wide lockdown, or, at a minimum, following the Ontario Hospital Association recommendation to robustly enforce a four-week lockdown (grey zone) in every public health unit with an infection rate of 40/100,000 population or higher.

The expanded lockdown measures should be started immediately and not wait until December 25, which appears to be the plan of the Ontario government. Setting December 25 as the starting date is an invitation for exponential growth of community transmission until the measures come into effect.

The healthcare system is already under enormous pressure, and some sectors are collapsing, such as long-term care. Non-COVID interventions have been severely reduced or even stopped in many sectors, which will translate in increased morbidity and mortality as a result of cancer, cardiac illness, and other conditions. If the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations continues to increase, we will not be far from a situation where “ethical guidelines” will guide who receives treatment and who does not.

All this is preventable and unacceptable. We place full responsibility on the Ontario government if it does not engage immediate action to control the COVID-19 wave. 

RNAO calls again on the immediate implementation of stronger, additional restrictions over those currently established for the grey lockdown zone, as follows:

  • Close all indoor malls and other non-essential indoor activities.
  • Close big box stores for everything except essential products, with strict occupancy limits.
  • Close religious services rites or ceremonies in indoor spaces, except for funeral services.
  • There should be additional public health directives that effectively diminish non-essential movement both within and between regions, as the current grey-zone measures seem not to be working. The movement of essential workers and essential economic activity, other essential trips, and those of people who care for other people, should be allowed, but other movement should be discouraged. In particular, movement for purposes of shopping, except for basic needs, and socializing should be drastically reduced. 
  • Continue to respect the current rule that "Individuals who live alone, including seniors, may consider having exclusive, close contact with another household to help reduce the negative impacts of social isolation."
  • Engage measures to enforce the public health directives.

Health system leaders and government should engage in persuasive communication with the public. Rather than using the vaccine as a distraction from the current crisis, let’s use the vaccine as a tool to power aggressive action today. We should motivate all of us to join together in these last few months of battling COVID-19 – #TogetherWeCanDoIT –, to save lives and our healthcare system.

We know, from experience, that with the arrival of warmer weather in the spring, and the shift of activity to outdoor spaces, the pandemic wave will get better. We expect a massive rollout of vaccination during the spring and summer that will substantially improve our situation. Let’s keep working together and make sure that our parents, grandparents, and the many other individuals vulnerable to COVID-19 are all celebrating with us at that time.