What is the provincial government doing about keeping non-essential individuals out of the North?
Premier Doug Ford asked residents in urban areas to avoid travel to their cottages.
Mayor Brian Bigger announced last week that while it may be tempting to gather with family and loved ones over the holiday, it is imperative that visitors not come to our community while this situation is ongoing, unless absolutely necessary. “I have a duty to protect our residents,” he said.
A plea from another northern mayor, Virginia Rook of Killarney: “If you're planning on visiting the village of Killarney during the Easter long weekend or any time in the near future, please don't.” Killarney village has a permanent population of less than 400 people, the majority being vulnerable seniors.
The Sudbury and District Medical Society cares about the welfare of our patients. The society passed a motion asking for enforced travel restrictions by the province.
The federal government issued new orders. Non-Canadians arriving in Canada must declare their name, destination, phone number. They must enter 14 days of quarantine. Agents may be checking at the given destination to ensure they are in quarantine.
Many provincial and territorial jurisdictions are already enforcing travel restrictions. Ontario, which has the second highest case count of coronavirus infections in Canada, has not yet signalled its intention in this regard.
The daily count of new cases of the virus is still high in the hotspots of southern Ontario. The curve is not flattening. In contrast, there are relatively few COVID cases in the North.
There are now 104 outbreaks of the virus reported at Ontario long-term care homes as of April 16.
Outbreaks have been declared at two Timmins-area care facilities, with one resident and two staff members at retirement homes or nursing homes in the area now testing positive.
Right now, we have no measure of how many individuals are defying pleas to avoid travel, much as we have no idea how many individuals who are asymptomatic are passing on the infection.
We are sure the premier cares about the North. Please take action and keep non-essential individuals out of our communities, for as long as necessary.
Dr. Peter Zalan is the former president of the medical staff at Health Sciences North, and a current member of the Sudbury and District Medical Society.