Ontario's health agency has lost its chief during a critical time. Public Health Ontario CEO Dr. Peter Donnelly has reportedly stepped down from his role temporarily due to a personal medical issue. His concern is not thought to be related to COVID-19.

According to a report from the Toronto Star, a senior government source confirmed that Dr. Donnelly will be replaced for the foreseeable future.

This news comes just a week after PHO's president delivered the province's statistical model for how far the virus might go in Ontario.

On April 23, Dr. Donnelly had grimly warned that the effects of the pandemic in the province could stretch for up to two years.

He also warned that up to 1600 Ontarians could die by the end of April.

The Star reports that a senior government official confirmed he will be replaced temporarily by Colleen Geiger, PHO's chief of strategy, stakeholder relations, information and knowledge.

According to another official, Dr. Donnelly is highly regarded by Ontario Premier Doug Ford, despite Ford's frustrations with the rate of testing in the province.

"We love the guy," the government employee told the Star. 

This news of Dr. Donnelly's temporary departure follows a banner couple of days for Ontario in the fight against COVID-19.

On Wednesday, April 8, Ontario reported 550 new cases, its biggest single-day jump so far. The update also included 21 new deaths.

And following that stark update, Premier Ford took an unimpressed tone at his briefing on Wednesday.

There, he slammed the comparatively low testing rate of Ontario as "unacceptable" and called for the province to significantly bump its number of daily tests starting "immediately."

And, today, a new record of 26 deaths in the province was announced overnight.

Ontario's case load has now surpassed 6,000 and the province has seen more than 200 deaths.

Dr. Donnelly had said last week that if Ontario had not taken the measures it has enacted so far in the fight against the pandemic, 100,000 residents would have been at risk of dying.

Per the Star, Ontario will release its new testing protocol on Friday.

On Thursday, the province advised testing even asymptomatic people who have been admitted or re-admitted to long-term care or retirement homes, per CP24.

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