Monday, September 28th 2020, 4:00 pm - Health experts have always been concerned about fall's impact on COVID-19, here are the latest updates and precautions.
Monday, September 28th marks Ontario's highest reported cases of COVID-19 since the outbreak in January. An additional 700 positive cases were reported, with the majority of cases coming from Toronto, Peel Region and Ottawa.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, health experts have been wondering how fall and winter could impact COVID-19.
Tuesday, September 22, officially marked the first day of fall, and Ontario's COVID numbers are already increasing.
One of the reasons there's the uncertainty of how fall is going to affect disease transmission is the shift from outdoor gatherings to indoor.
“What matters the most is people being in close contact for a prolonged period of time -- that’s where the bulk of transmission is occurring,” shares Dr. Sumon Chakrabarti, an Ontarian infectious disease doctor.
Dr. Chakrabarti adds, “It was thought that temperature could play a role, however, it’s hard to translate these findings into the real world. What doctors do know for sure is being inside in a closed space with other people is a sure way for a virus to spread.”
In order to get a better grasp on the disease's spread and enjoy the colder seasons safely, here's the latest from Canada's health authorities:
RELATED: What fall means for COVID-19
Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, shares, "there is a lot of virus circulating and things will only get worse if we don’t all do our best to slow the spread of COVID-19. The fact is public health authorities can’t solve this on their own, it will take all of us working together to bring things back to a safer slow burn."
As of September 19th, Ontario reduced gathering limits from 50 to ten people for indoor get-togethers and from 100 to 25 for outdoor festivities.
Knowing that numbers are going up, Dr. Tam urges residents to reevaluate our protection practices, sharing that we need "to examine our efforts and think about how we can tighten things up to be part of the solution."
THERE'S AN APP FOR THAT
Before going into the precautions that most of us have heard endlessly about, there seems to be an underutilized tool that Ontarians specifically are lucky to have.
At the end of July, the federal government deployed the COVID Alert app.
The app indicates to users whether or not they've come in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.
It's a completely secure, anonymous, opt-in only resource that uses Bluetooth to communicate with other app users. When someone tests positive, the app provides a code for the user to activate. Then, the phone alerts all phones it has been in contact with in the past two weeks (must be within a 2-meter distance for 15 minutes or more).
The app can work optimally to "slow the burn" if enough Ontarians download it.
Currently, only Ontario, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Saskatchewan can use the app with its full capabilities. Learn more about the app here.
LATEST UPDATES ON PROTECTION FROM DR. THERESA TAM
Aside from downloading the app, the usual hand-washing, mask-wearing, and social-distancing, these are the additional recommendations:
- Stay home and away from others if you're experiencing any symptoms, even if mild
- "Rethink your bubble" -- the smaller the better. Should only be existing household members and/or a small number of trusted in-person contacts
- A reminder that anyone can be infected and can spread the virus before showing symptoms, so err on the side of caution