Two years ago today, China began reporting that cases of what would become known as COVID-19 were being treated in Wuhan City. The virus spread rapidly around the world and the World Health Organization declared a pandemic on March 11, 2020, with no end in sight.
In Ontario, the first case was confirmed in Ontario on Jan. 25, 2020, and since then there have been more than 739,000 cases with a death toll of more than 10,000. While Ontario’s high vaccination rate of more than 80 per cent of those eligible and public health measures significantly slowed the virus in the latter half of 2021, the highly contagious Omicron variant has led to record numbers of infections.
As we enter Year 3 of the pandemic, Ontario’s doctors are offering reassurance that we have the experience and expertise gained over the past two years to navigate this next phase as well.
“We have had some tough days in 2021, but we have learned how to combat the disease as it continues to change,” said Dr. Adam Kassam, president of the Ontario Medical Association. “We need to stay vigilant and resilient and we will get through this together. The single most important thing everyone can do to help is to get vaccinated and get their children vaccinated. If you have questions, ask your doctor or local public health unit.”
As we look ahead to 2022, Ontario’s doctors say we should be prepared for a “steady state” of the pandemic for the foreseeable future. That means Ontarians will have to wear masks, show vaccine certificates and maintain physical distancing so that our health-care system is not overwhelmed by a surge in cases.
To keep you, your family and your community safe, the Ontario Medical Association recommends the following tips:
- Get yourself and your children over 5 fully vaccinated as soon as possible, and everyone should get a booster when eligible.
- Keep indoor gatherings small and limit the number you have. Don’t attend if you are ill or have been exposed to a confirmed case of COVID.
- Before gathering indoors, be aware of everyone’s vaccination status. It’s not only OK to ask, it’s the responsible thing to do.
- Weather permitting, open windows during indoor celebrations. Consider virtual or outdoor celebrations.
- Wear the best-quality mask you can find and wear it properly, covering your nose and mouth.
- Take care of your mental health. Connect with others who may be lonely.
“The best way to protect yourself and your loved ones from COVID-19 is to get vaccinated,” said OMA CEO Allan O’Dette. “If you have not yet had your COVID-19 vaccine, please talk to your doctor about the benefits. If you are eligible for a booster, I would encourage you to get it as soon as you can.”