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Ontario regions urge stronger emergency measures
April 6, 2021

The medical officers of health from Toronto, Peel Region and Ottawa have joined forces to urge the province of Ontario to issue a full stay-at-home order and strengthen its emergency measures.

In a letter sent to Dr. David Williams, the province's chief medical officer of health, the three regional heads say the current measures will not do enough to reduce the rate of transmission of COVID-19 infections.

"Stricter lockdowns have been shown to be effective in other countries to control transmission while vaccine campaigns progressed to achieve sufficient population coverage to suppress transmission," the joint letter says.

Peel Public Health has also ordered all schools to be closed.

Dr. Lawrence Loh, medical officer of health for the region, which includes Brampton, Mississauga and Caledon, said he is ordering schools to close starting Tuesday.

The schools will move to online learning only and will remain closed until April 18.

Loh said the closure will allow students and staff at least two weeks out of schools to break any chains of transmission and protect them from exposure.

Late Monday, the Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph health region also said it would close all of its schools effective Wednesday.

Toronto Public Health is not ordering all schools closed at this time, though the Toronto District School Board and Toronto Catholic District School Board are each closing a handful of schools due to outbreaks.

Ontario on Monday reported figures covering two days, for a total of 5,979 new cases of COVID-19 and 22 additional deaths.

According to figures released Monday, hospitalizations in Ontario stood at 942, with 494 people in "ICU due to COVID-related critical illness." Of those in ICU, 469 were still testing positive for COVID-19, the update said.

Some health experts in the province are urging a change in vaccination priorities, from older Canadians to essential workers.

In Toronto, Mayor John Tory said the city is working on a plan to vaccinate high-risk people at their places of work.

Meanwhile, new COVID-19 restrictions will go into effect in Quebec on Monday evening as the province tries to deal with rising COVID-19 case numbers involving more contagious variants.

The provincial government said the curfew will move from 9:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. ET Monday evening in the regional municipalities of Beauce-Sartigan, Bellechasse, Les Etchemins, Nouvelle-Beauce and Robert-Cliche.

Non-essential businesses will be required to close starting Monday evening, as will restaurant dining rooms. Schools will also have to close for in-person learning. The measures will be in place until at least April 12, the province said.

The Quebec government imposed the same restrictions on three other cities last week, including Quebec City and Gatineau.

Quebec reported 1,252 new cases of COVID-19 and four additional deaths on Monday. According to a provincial dashboard, hospitalizations stood at 503, with 123 in intensive care.

The expanded restrictions in parts of Quebec come as several provinces face mounting COVID-19 case numbers and increasing hospitalizations, prompting concern about the strain on health-care systems.