An Ottawa-based expert in infectious diseases says the provincial government should be patient, and not rush too quickly into Step 3 of its economic reopening plan.
Step 2 of the reopening -- which allows for things like haircuts, more outdoor dining at restaurants and higher capacity limits inside retail stores -- begins Wednesday, June 30. Ontario's roadmap to reopening says the province will stay in Step 2 for at least 21 days, to gauge its effect on hospitalizations and infection rates.
"Where we will run into problems is if we continue to open during growth," says Dr. Doug Manuel, senior scientist at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute and a member of Ontario's COVID-19 Science Advisory Table. "If COVID's going up, don't open any more -- I mean, I hope that's not too controversial."
Premier Doug Ford hinted Monday that the reopening may proceed quicker than his government’s current plan. Ford said he will be meeting with the province’s new top doctor, and he if he gets the all-clear then Step 3 could be coming sooner than expected.
“There’s no one that wants to open this province up more than I do, we’re very very close,” said Ford. “We’ll be sitting down with the new chief medical officer of health, Dr. [Kieran] Moore, and we’ll get his advice, and if he gives us the green light — lets get this province open and start moving, I can’t wait, I really can’t.”
Dr. Manuel says we need to keep the Delta variant in negative growth, and so far, our growth rate has been hovering right around the threshold between negative and positive.
The Delta variant of COVID-19 is more contagious, and results in more severe infections, Dr. Manuel says. He's concerned about the effects on unvaccinated people, particularly those in middle age, and says some models predict worrisome trends for the fall.
"We have our vaccination rates dropping as you get younger, but we have hospitalization going up as you get older," Dr. Manuel tells CityNews Ottawa's The Rob Snow Show. "Most of the models are saying there's going to be a fair number of people in hospital... and that's because of 40-to-60-year-olds who have no vaccination at all."
Dr. Manuel says we're doing better for vaccinations than some parts of the world and that he thinks we'll be in good shape for Step 3, as long as we keep the virus under control.
-With files from 680NEWS