Ontario shuts schools, indoor dining, gyms amid infections

TORONTO — All schools in Canada’s most populous province will be shut down and move to online learning because of a record number of coronavirus infections fueled by the ultra-contagious omicron variant, Ontario’s premier announced Monday.

Premier Doug Ford also announced the closure of indoor dining. The closing of gyms and cinemas is also announced. Hospitals have been instructed to suspend all non-urgent procedures.

Ontario is locking down again, unlike the U.S. cities and states. Ontario, like the U.S. is experiencing record-breaking infections. Ford cited projections that the hospital would be full within weeks, indicating Omicron’s potential to decimate the country.

“We’re bracing for impact,” Ford said

Ford said they are expecting a “tsunami” of cases and noted just one percent of 100,000 new cases a day could overwhelm hospitals. Ontario has a population of more than 14.7 million.

“They had no choice,” said Dr. Andrew Morris, a professor of infectious diseases at the University of Toronto and the medical director of the Antimicrobial Stewardship Program at Sinai-University Health Network.

“It was going to be brutal one way or the other. These realities aren’t being faced by anyone? He said.

Morris said the U.S. has much more hospital capacity than Canada. Dr. Chaim Bell, a hospital-based general internist at Sinai Health in Toronto, has noted Canada has one of the lowest number of hospital beds per capita in the industrialized world with hospitals often running at more than 100% capacity and leaving little extra room for extra capacity for surges.

“How does one add hospital capacity? It is necessary to add nurses and physicians. Morris stated that they don’t appear by accident.

The reopening of schools has been delayed until at least Jan. 17. The government had announced that schools will open Wednesday last week.

Retail stores will be limited to 50% capacity in Ontario and indoor social gatherings will be capped at five people.

The new measures will begin Wednesday.

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