By Shawn Jeffords The Canadian Press
TORONTO – Ontario’s hospitals are calling on the government to reinstate restrictions in COVID-19 hot spots as the province reports its highest daily case increase since the start of the pandemic.
The government recorded 700 new cases on Monday, most of them in the Greater Toronto Area and Ottawa.
The Ontario Hospital Association says the government must move those regions back to Stage Two of the province’s pandemic response, which saw restrictions on non-essential businesses like restaurants, gyms, and movie theatres.
Association President Anthony Dale says hospitals could become overwhelmed with patients if such action isn’t taken.
The call comes after a move by the province on Friday to close all strip clubs and require bars and restaurants to shut down earlier.
Premier Doug Ford also announced that the province will spend an additional $741 million to help clear a backlog of surgeries that has developed at Ontario hospitals during the pandemic.
Dale said hospitals could see occupancy rates rise quickly given the resent surge in COVID-19 cases.
“We can no longer retain a false sense of security and belief that this will not happen to us,” he said in a statement.
“At this rate, Ontario hospitals are facing a direct threat to their ability to continue to delivering the highest quality of care to Ontarians.”
Dale said that the average acute care occupancy rate of Ontario’s hospitals is 89 per cent currently, but some of the facilities are already at 100 per cent capacity.
The government said Monday that 128 people are currently hospitalized in Ontario due to COVID-19, including 29 in intensive care.
Of the latest new cases, Health Minister Christine Elliott said 344 are reported in Toronto, 104 cases in Peel Region, 89 in Ottawa and 56 in York Region.
She said 60 per cent of the new cases are among people under the age of 40.
The province is also reporting 36 new COVID-19 cases related to schools, including at least 27 among students.
Those bring the number of schools with a reported case to 224 out of Ontario’s 4,828 publicly-funded schools.
Green party Leader Mike Schreiner asked Ford to outline the metrics that will trigger school closures and a return to Stage Two.
“People need reassurance that the premier is not asleep at the wheel right now, when his actions will determine the severity of the second wave,” he said in a statement.