Saturday, January 9, 2021

New Covid cases double under Ontario lockdown

'Lockdown light' failed in Canada's hardest-hit regions. Here's what experts say should happen now | CBC News - Adam Miller: 

January 9, 2021 - "There's no getting around it — lockdown measures don't seem to be working in Ontario and Quebec the second time around. Health experts say Canada's hardest-hit provinces have consistently failed to contain the spread of COVID-19 with inadequate, poorly timed restrictions, leaving little choice but for much more draconian rules to be introduced. But where exactly did we go wrong?...

"Ontario and Quebec hesitated to impose strict enough measures to prevent an even deadlier second wave, some experts say. 'The first lockdown was extreme. Everything was closed, everything, and people were really discouraged from even leaving their houses as well. People were terrified and so they were more likely to comply," said Raywat Deonandan, a global health epidemiologist and associate professor at the University of Ottawa. 'Now, there isn't a lockdown — some businesses are closed but many are open still. So people are still going about their business, people are still socializing, because the fear is gone.'

"In the spring, when much of the country went into widespread, severely restrictive lockdowns to stop the mysterious spread of a new virus we knew little about, the high level of compliance was obvious. 'Nobody was on the street. It was like a neutron bomb went off,' said Dr. Michael Gardam, an infectious diseases expert in Toronto and senior medical adviser for Health PEI. 'And if you compare that to today, the highways are full, there are people everywhere. There is so much more interpersonal contact now than there was back in the spring, and I think that's your answer — it's not the same lockdown at all.'

"Ontario Premier Doug Ford imposed what he calls a provincewide lockdown on Boxing Day in an effort to address the alarming rise of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths. Since then, new daily cases have actually doubled — from 2,123 when the restrictions were announced on Dec. 21 to 4,249 on Friday — although the full impact of the measures may not yet be seen.... But two weeks after the new lockdown was put in place, as the head of the Ontario Hospital Association warns of looming disaster, it's clear to some experts that much more needs to be done....

"Quebec has taken the extraordinary step of implementing an 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew, beginning Saturday and running for the next four weeks, which is the first of its kind in Canada since the pandemic began.... But critics were quick to point out the new restrictions didn't include any limits on the manufacturing or construction sectors or a prolonged break for schools, which, combined, have accounted for a large portion of outbreaks in recent weeks.... 

"Gardam says a stricter lockdown in Ontario would likely help drive cases down to manageable levels. He suspects the government's hesitance may be due to the potential political fallout.... Gardam says if Ontario brought in the type of lockdown that Australia successfully used to control the spread of COVID-19 in its first wave, the province would be in a much better situation. When Australia was hit with a surge of COVID-19 cases in late July, it prompted one of the world's longest lockdowns in Melbourne that closed virtually everything that wasn't a grocery store or hospital for nearly four months.

"'If you brought in a very strict lockdown like that, your cases would go down,' he said. 'We've got ample evidence of that from other parts of the world.'"

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