'I do think this is the right move,' Ont. doctor prescribes optimism as province moves to ease restrictions
The past president of the Ontario Medical Association (OMA) says he supports Ontario's plan to lift COVID-19 protocols, including capacity limits and mask mandates, but admits he's not letting his guard down just yet.
"I'm always going to be a little bit cautious, right, because that's what the pandemic has taught us, is that we should be cautious. Having said that, I do think this is the right move," says Dr. Sohail Gandhi.
"The message all along has been if we get enough people in our province vaccinated, then we'll be able to start easing restrictions," Gandhi says.
"And I also would point out that the restrictions in Ontario are being eased at a very slow rate compared to how restrictions raised in other provinces where they've unfortunately had to go backwards," he adds.
Last week, the Ford government hinted at possibly lifting mandatory masking and removing the vaccine certificate program.
While the former OMA president says this is realistic, the timelines aren't set in stone.
"We're talking about target dates," he says.
"These dates are set in such a way saying, 'OK, if things continue to improve, if our numbers stay low, then this is what we can expect.' It's a good cautious plan, and it's a plan that does allow for an extension of those dates if absolutely necessary," Gandhi explains.
On Monday, Ontario health officials reported 326 new daily cases, with the seven-day rolling average sitting at 372, down from 416 last week.
Currently, nearly 88 per cent of vaccine-eligible Ontarians have received at least one shot, while close to 85 per cent have received both.
According to the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit, 505 shots were administered on Sunday, and now more than 82 per cent of those aged 12 and older in the region have been fully vaccinated.
As restrictions ease, Gandhi says he'll continue to watch the daily case counts, including the newly infected and those admitted to the hospital.
Meanwhile, Gandhi points out that as COVID-19 cases trend downward, other infections that took a backseat last year are making a comeback.
"In my office last week, I saw a number of people with bronchiolitis. I've seen some people with ear infections. I've seen some kids with croup," he says, adding flu season is upon us.
"Because we know that the flu is really prevalent in December, January, and February, and so it's really, really, important this year, as it is every year, for everyone to get their flu shot as well," Gandhi concludes.
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