Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Public Health, Dr. David Williams, has a clear message to all: Ontarians need to stay home. In his March 30th statement, Williams urged more stringent isolation as COVID-19 cases rise throughout the province and around the world.
“Everyone has a role to play in reducing the risk of spreading COVID-19 – there is no option for anyone to opt out,” said Williams.
In light of the continued spread of the virus, Williams stressed more needs to be done by way of staying home unless absolutely necessary.
“I strongly recommend you and other members of your household stay home except for essential reasons,” wrote Williams.
Reasons deemed essential include: access to health care services, grocery shopping, medication pick-up, pet walking (when required), and supporting vulnerable community members with the above needs.
“To the fullest extent possible, you should also limit the number of these essential trips,” clarified Williams. “However, when you are out in public you must adhere to physical distancing by reducing your exposure to other people outside of your household by keeping two metres from other people.
Given the risk of severe outcomes for the elderly, Williams also urged anyone over 70 to self-isolate.
“This means only leaving home or seeing other people for essential reasons. Where possible, you should seek services over the phone or internet or ask for help from friends, family or neighbours with essential errands,” he stated. “This also applies to individuals who have compromised immune systems and/or underlying medical conditions.”
In his statement, Williams acknowledged the ongoing action taken by the government in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, and the measures which have been enacted by many citizens.
“The Government of Ontario continues to take decisive action to respond to the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) to help contain its spread and to protect the public,” he stated. “This has involved some unprecedented measures, and I know many of you continue to undertake great efforts to protect your families, friends, neighbours, clients and patients, and communities.”
Apart from ramping up his recommendations and telling everyone to stay home if at all possible, the public health officer also reiterated the grave need for sanitizing practices, especially hand-washing.
“As we have been saying repeatedly, it is critically important to wash your hands regularly (or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available), practice proper cough and sneeze etiquette, and avoid direct contact when greeting people,” he stated.
Williams also spoke bluntly of the need for those who have recently travelled internationally to self-isolate for 14 days.
“As previously communicated and mandated by the federal government, all individuals who are returning from travel outside of Canada must self-isolate for 14 days when they return. You must not go to work, grocery stores or on walks,” implored Williams. “You should also monitor yourself for symptoms of COVID-19 for 14 days after returning and contact your primary care provider or Telehealth Ontario (1-866-797-0000) if you experience symptoms of COVID-19.
In his statement, Williams asked families, individuals, neighbours and services to find ways to support each other through this ordeal and find ways to enable seniors, at-risk populations and those returning from travel to remain at home.
“We need to remember that we all have an obligation to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 to our families, friends, neighbours, and communities. Please do not underestimate the impact that your actions will have in helping to stop the spread of this virus,”stressed Williams.
For more information on COVID-19, such as the current status of the outbreak, the online self-assessment tool to help determine how to seek further care, how Ontario is responding, and how to self isolate, please visit: https://covid-19.ontario.ca/ .