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Head of Ontario COVID-19 science table says capacity limits may need 'fine-tuning'


The head of Ontario's COVID-19 science table says it could be time to revisit some capacity limits in the province as COVID-19 cases start to tick back up.

Dr. Peter Juni, scientific director of Ontario's COVID-19 Science Advisory Table, told Newstalk 580 CFRA's "Ottawa Now with Kristy Cameron" that the recent increase comes on the heels of two factors.

"The second honeymoon is over. We just need to be aware of what is happening. We have, on one hand, lifted capacity limits in sports arenas and restaurants and, on the other hand, the temperature has dropped," he said.

"What we're seeing now is a result of lifting capacity limits and the temperature drop and, therefore, we're now having exponential growth in the province."

Juni said it's a good time to remind people to follow other COVID-19 measures, such as mask use and enforcing vaccine certificates.

"We can't let it linger and we can't pretend the pandemic is over," he said. "If we do a little bit of the right thing, we’ll continue to go back to the right track."

Ontario's seven-day average of daily infections stands at 476 as of Monday, up from 371 the previous week. The province saw more than 500 daily cases on Friday and Saturday and more than 600 cases on Sunday.

Juni said the recent removal of capacity limits may have been "a little bit too much" at this time.

"It was an experiment. I was always very upfront about that," he said. "We will need to experiment with it and see whether we actually tolerate it, whether the vaccines have brought enough protection that we can do that. What we see now, with temperature lowering and moving inside more, is it was just a tiny bit too much."

He suggested capacity limits may need to be "fine-tuned" in the coming weeks.

"Restaurants may not like to hear that, sports arenas neither, but it may be that in a few weeks we need to have this difficult discussion and say, 'Okay, we need to go back to just 50 per cent capacity, to physical distancing of tables again in restaurants.' It's quite a fair possibility, to be honest with you," he said.

The Ontario Science Advisory Table's COVID-19 dashboard says the doubling time for cases in Ontario is 17 days, meaning in just over two weeks, if trends continue, the province could be seeing around 1,000 cases per day, on average, Juni said.

"That's the nature of exponential growth," he said.

"Things are not dramatic. Why do I say that? Because our ICU numbers and hospital numbers are low,” he noted. “If we are on the on the wrong track … there is a moment where hospital admissions and ICU admissions will follow and we don't want to go there… It's not much that we need to do, but we need to do a little bit of something."

Juni said, in addition to fine tuning capacity limits and reinforcing pandemic safety measures, vaccinating children and providing boosters to the most vulnerable will also aid in keeping cases and hospitalizations low. Top Stories

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