Province updates COVID-19 response framework, NWHU remains at green level
Tim Brody - Editor
Responding to a rapid increase in COVID-19 cases in Ontario, the provincial government updated its Keeping Ontario Safe and Open Framework by lowering the thresholds for each level of its colour coded framework.
Details were provided on Nov. 13 by Premier Doug Ford, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, and Dr. David Williams, Chief Medical Officer of Health.
“Our number one priority right now is getting the numbers down and keeping people safe,” Ford stated.
“These adjustments are necessary to respond to the latest evidence we're seeing and we are prepared to make further adjustments as the health experts continue to review the current public health restrictions. We must do whatever it takes to stop our hospitals from being overwhelmed and protect our most vulnerable,” he added.
The provincial government shared, “The latest modelling shows that if the number of new cases continues to grow at its current rate, the province could register up to 6,500 new cases per day by mid-December. Within the next two weeks the province will likely exceed its intensive care threshold of 150 beds, under any potential scenario.
“The framework changes are in response to the current data and trends, and will lower the threshold for each of the five levels for: weekly incidence rates, positivity rate, effective reproductive number (Rt), outbreak trends and the level of community transmission.”
The province’s framework, “Takes a gradual approach that includes introducing preventative measures earlier to help avoid broader closures and allow for additional public health and workplace safety measures to be introduced or removed incrementally. It categorizes public health unit regions into five levels: Green-Prevent, Yellow-Protect, Orange-Restrict, Red-Control, and Lockdown being a measure of last and urgent resort.”
“We need to be clear about what’s at stake. We’re staring down the barrel of another lockdown and I will not hesitate for a second if we have to go further, because our number one priority right now is getting these numbers down,” Ford commented.
The Northwestern Health Unit and Thunder Bay District Health Unit remain at the green – prevent (standard measures) level of the framework.
More information on what level of the framework each of the province’s health unit regions sits at, and what public health measures look like at each level of the framework, can be found at: https://www.ontario.ca/page/covid-19-response-framework-keeping-ontario-safe-and-open.
The provincial government shared that the following recommendations apply to all public health unit regions in the province:
Avoid social gatherings and limit close contacts to your household or the people you live with;
Adhere to the restrictions in your region on public and private gatherings;
- Maintain two metres of physical distancing from everyone else;
- Wear a face covering indoors and wear one outdoors if physical distancing may not be maintained or if wearing one is required;
- Wash your hands thoroughly and regularly;
- Stay home if you have COVID-19 symptoms, even if they are mild;
- Cover your cough;
- Get tested if you have symptoms compatible with COVID-19, or if you've been advised of exposure by your local public health unit or through the COVID Alert mobile app;
- Individuals and families from higher transmission regions should avoid travel to lower transmission regions, except for essential reasons; and
- Download the COVID Alert mobile app.