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Ontario’s top doctor says daily COVID-19 cases will have to fall to around 1,000 to lift lockdown

TORONTO — Ontario’s top doctor has said the number of new COVID-19 cases reported daily should be “around or below 1,000” before the lockdown orders can be lifted.

Speaking at a news conference on Monday afternoon, the province’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams said that officials would have to be able to guarantee hospital capacity could be protected before changing public health measures in Ontario.

“If you do that knowing the different numbers and per cents that usually get admitted to hospital and how many of those end up in the (intensive care unit) ICU you get a general sense that you have to get somewhere around or below 1,000 new cases a day,” he said.

“It was only a few months ago, the end of October that we were there, and we can get back there I believe.”

Williams added that the number of people being treated in Ontario intensive care units (ICU) for COVID-19 would also have to be reduced from 400 to about 150.

The province said that it becomes harder to support non-COVID-19 needs when the number of ICU patients with the novel coronavirus exceeds 150.

It becomes “impossible” to handle once it exceeds 350 people.

As of Monday, there are currently 1,571 patients in hospital with COVID-19. Of those, at least 394 patients are being treated in the ICU and 303 are breathing with the assistance of a ventilator.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford issued a province-wide lockdown on Dec. 26 that shuttered all non-essential businesses and prohibited in-person dining at bars and restaurants.

As the number of COVID-19 cases neared 4,000 a day in early January, Ford declared a state of emergency and issued a stay-at home order.

Under this order, residents are required to stay at home with the exception for essential reasons.

Ontario’s COVID-19 case total now stands at 240,364, including 5,433 deaths and 206,310 recoveries.

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