Lambton’s MOH prepared to take stronger action than provincial recommendations on COVID-19 if it becomes necessary

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Provincial government’s latest guidelines widely criticized by medical community

Lambton’s medical officer of health says if he has to act to reduce the spread of COVID-19 here, he will do it.

Dr. Sudit Ranade made the comment Thursday during a media briefing – the same day The Toronto Star reported the new provincial system which determines when and how regions should begin implementing restrictions to reduce the spread of COVID-19 did not follow the advice of public health advisors, as the premier said when the document was unveiled.

The Star reports Public Health Ontario wanted restrictions to being earlier. For example, public health’s proposal says in the control or red zone – the toughest restrictions before lockdown – recommends 25 cases per 100,000 or a positivity rate of 2.5 per cent. The province’s new guidelines says there should be 100 cases per 100,000 people or a positivity rate from testing of 10 per cent.

If the public health guidelines were in place instead of the new provincial standard, as many as 14 regions could be in the red zone.

In the Greater Toronto area, local medical officers of health are imposing stricter measures outside of the province’s guidelines to try to stop the rising cases. In Ontario today there were 1,545 new cases of COVID-19, almost 1,000 of those were in Toronto and Peel.

Lambton’s medical officer of health was asked Thursday if he’s prepared to go above and beyond the province’s guidelines – using Section 22 of the Public Health Act – if COVID-19 cases begin to climb here.

“Let me put it this way, if there’s something that I need to do, in order to dramatically reduce disease transmission, I will do it,” Ranade told reporters.

And he acknowledges that would come with economic pain.

“The problem is, when medical officers of health step in with Section 22 orders, we do not have the ability to mitigate the consequences of those orders…the powers that we have, I described them as being all stick no carrot.”

He adds he’d only take extra measures “when I absolutely have to.”

“I don’t think that we’re there yet.”

Ranade says he will closely reviewing the indicators locally, consult with others and use his own professional judgement to make the decision.

“There’s some guidance thresholds available for places like the WHO (World Health Organization) and I think those are important to look at, but it’s also important for us to pay attention now to what happens in Toronto, for example, as a result of the restrictions that they put in place, due to their indicators, to see what could have the biggest effect” on reducing the spread of COVID-19.

“It’s about looking at what’s happening in other places and trying to make the best decisions you can based on that.”