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Editorial

Working together

New restrictions kick in today for Ontario residents and businesses aimed at curbing the explosive growth of Covid-19 cases across the province. The latest measures were announced by Premier Doug Ford earlier this week via a frank and unequivocal message, where he declared Ontario will face “a tsunami of cases in the days and weeks ahead”.

In response to this existential development, Ford said the province will return to a modified version of Step Two of Ontario’s Reopening Plan, which starts today.

Among the measures yet again impacting to keep us from being infected, and saving our lives, are the closure of indoor dining, food courts, gyms, and movie houses, along with lower capacity limits that are now affecting other social settings.

What we are facing is yet another threatening and exponential exposure to Covid-19, this time to the Omicron variant, itself an evolved visitation from the coronavirus’ tenacity and ability to shapeshift as it continues to infect billions of lives, livelihoods and economies, and all nations throughout our belaboured world. According to The WHO’s Covid-19 dashboard today, so far there have been 290,959,019 confirmed cases worldwide; and sadly, there have been 5,446,753 global deaths reported.

Ontario’s latest modified return to Step Two is necessary, and a required consequence in light of what was yesterday described by Health Minister Christine Elliott’s office as an “explosive growth in hospitalisations” across Ontario.

As Elliott’s office noted, “While Delta’s severity required a focus on our ICU admissions, Omicron has resulted in a sudden and significant increase in hospital admissions, as well as a recent increase in staffing challenges in many critical sectors due to the rapid rise in Omicron exposures. While the first few weeks of December saw hospital admissions remain stable, we’ve recently started to see explosive growth in hospitalisations.”

Yesterday there were close to 1,300 people hospitalised in Ontario with Covid-19; as comparative evidence of Covid-19’s exponential efficacy for rapid spread, exactly one week before, the hospitalisation figure stood at 491. Yesterday Ontario’s seven-day rolling average was 14,435 new daily cases, a figure that officials warned may not be accurate, as it may likely be higher due to testing limitations and backlogs. As of today, there are 828,032 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Ontario, with 10,252 deaths. Also, as of today, Canada’s total Covid-19 figures stands at 2,142,310 confirmed cases, with 30,280 reported deaths.

January may well be the cruellest month. However, as our own community doctor, and eminent cardiologist, Dr Vivian Rambihar notes in this edition, we have the knowledge and power to overcome this Omicron shockwave.

As Rambihar adds, “Better times are ahead, and we have the knowledge and power to turn this around, and to make a better 2022, hopefully starting in one to two months. The math can be on our side. The same math that causes exponential growth and the tsunami, can cause rapid exponential decay to low numbers, if we do it right.”

And as the good doctor reminds us, focused vigilance is needed if we are to overcome the latest coronavirus challenge: “We know much more about Omicron now to do it right, and [we] have to remain patient and follow Public Health advice and restrictions, even when they keep escalating. Things will get worse before they get better… Covid-19 [presents] an increasing risk to all of us, especially the vulnerable and the unvaccinated, so we all have to be very careful, for ourselves and others, now more than ever.”

As we have noted in the past in this space, and as Rambihar reiterates, our path to safety is through vigilance, attentiveness to the details of personal protection, and working together as a community. As Rambihar notes, “[We] should be united now in following public health advice: continue to wash hands, wear a mask where needed, keep a safe distance from others, avoid indoor and poorly ventilated spaces if you can, and get vaccinated with a third vaccine or booster, and the flu shot.”

Indeed, we can turn this around for a better 2022.