It looks like Toronto could be in for a long battle when it comes to overcoming the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr. Eileen de Villa, the city’s Medical Officer of Health, informed residents on April 1 that as cases of COVID-19 in Toronto continue to rise, residents can expect to continue to social distance for the next 12 weeks. This call comes after cases rose 500% in the city over the past two weeks. 

According to de Villa, residents may have to adhere to these strict measures for three more months. This means only leaving the house to get essential products and for other necessary outings. 

“Based on the experiences of other jurisdictions, it is my belief that these measures may need to be in place for up to 12 weeks,” de Villa said while updating the public on the state of the outbreak.

“In using the strongest terms possible to advise the public to stay home as much as possible and only go out when needed for essentials,” she added.

New measures being enforced will include “enhanced social distancing” and the reduction of open worksites and businesses. 

According to de Villa, the public should only be leaving their houses to get access to health care, shop for groceries once a week, walk their pets and get exercise. 

All of these activities should be done while practicing social distancing. 

Mayor John Tory also noted that he fully supports de Villa’s evaluation and believes the city will most likely be on lockdown for the full 12 weeks.

"These actions are unprecedented but we are facing an unprecedented threat," said Tory.

"We must show strength in sticking to this game plan so by the time summer comes, we have turned a corner."

In the press conference, de Villa compared Toronto to New York City. She stated that these measures are being put in place to avoid the outcome that some American cities are already seeing.

"One month after reporting its first case, New York City's case count was almost 42,000 and reported deaths numbered almost 1,100," said de Villa.

“I realize that I depict a very stark picture here… but one that is honest and true and premised on the data that we have in front of us. Given this is our current situation it is my belief that we must…absolutely implement stronger measures to avoid the type of results that we are seeing in places like New York City." 

Toronto health officials confirmed on Wednesday that there are currently 628 active confirmed cases in the city with 165 probable cases still pending.

Sixty-five patients have been hospitalized and just 33 residents are in an intensive care unit.

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