After sources confirmed that members of Doug Ford’s cabinet are meeting this week to discuss the future of in-person learning and changes to isolation requirements for those who have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, Ontario’s top public health doctor will make an announcement this afternoon.
Officials announced Dr. Kieran Moore, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, would make an announcement on COVID-19 testing and contact tracing guidance during a news conference on Tuesday, but the event was postponed.
A spike in cases caused by the rapid spread of the more infectious Omicron variant has made securing a timely PCR test impossible for many. On Wednesday, more than 10,000 new COVID-19 infections were confirmed in the province and Public Health Ontario has said that testing challenges mean daily case counts are an “underestimate of the true number of individuals with COVID-19 in Ontario.”
Today, Moore is expected to speak to reporters during a virtual announcement at 3 p.m.
Multiple sources confirmed to CTV News Toronto on Wednesday that the premier’s cabinet is meeting this week to discuss whether students will be returning to the classroom on schedule next week.
Many school boards, including the Toronto District School Board, are set to resume in-person learning on Monday.
On Tuesday, Ford said a decision on schools would be made in the next “couple of days.”
Ministers are also expected to discuss whether Ontario’s current isolation guidance should be shortened to line up with new rules implemented in the United States, where those who have tested positive for the virus but are asymptomatic are only required to isolate for five days rather than 10.
Today’s news conference will be streamed live on CP24.com.
Dr. Peter Jüni, the scientific director of Ontario’s Science Advisory Table, said other measures need to be considered before the decision is made to close schools.
“It’s a matter of priority,” he told CP24 on Thursday morning. “The 50 per cent capacity limits are simply not enough. So we would need to impose more capacity limits, have a clear message that people follow, work from home if they can work from home so that life can continue at a slower pace maybe with a lot less contacts.”
When it comes to testing for positive cases, Jüni says it’s impossible to keep track of case counts at this point in the epidemic.
“All we have to do is look at the patterns and see if test positive and case numbers are trending in one direction or the other,” he said.
“However, at that level of infection, it’s impossible to keep track of those cases in order to figure out how many we have.” That’s not going to work.”