Ontario science table calls for more measures to control COVID-19 pandemic

TORONTO — Ontario’s science advisers say the province’s hospitals are “buckling” under the weight of COVID-19 and stronger measures are urgently needed.

The Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table says those measures include accelerating the vaccination of essential workers and offering them paid sick days, and closing more non-essential workplaces.

Read more: Ontario reports 3,469 new COVID-19 cases, 22 deaths

The group says hospitals are at capacity and younger people are getting sick as case counts keep hitting record highs.

It also says that policies that discourage safe outdoor activity will disproportionately harm children and those who do not have access to green spaces, especially those living in crowded conditions.

Read more: Peel Region, Toronto order businesses with 5 or more COVID-19 cases to close for 10 days

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The group says the government must not impose policies that harm or neglect racialized, marginalized and other vulnerable populations.

The statement comes days after Ontario announced and then abandoned plans to close playgrounds and enhance police powers during an extended stay-at-home order.

Global News contacted members of Ontario’s COVID-19 Science Advisory Table to gauge reaction to the provincial government’s current public health measures.

Several members referred to the collective statement issued Tuesday afternoon.

“I am very concerned that we haven’t done enough yet in Ontario to flatten the curve. Waiting to find out if we have risks what may be intolerable stress on our hospital system, many more deaths, and greater economic hardship in the slightly longer term,” Dr. Allison McGeer, a microbiologist and an infectious disease consultant with Toronto’s Mount Sinai Hospital, told Global News in a statement.

“I’m hoping that together — as individuals, employers and government — we can pause, reset and agree on an effective and equitable COVID-19 strategy to get us through the next few weeks.”

More to come.

— With files from Global News’ Nick Westoll

© 2021 The Canadian Press

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