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LETTER: Third lockdown likely needed to tame 'wild' variants

Some suggest separating Muskoka from Simcoe County as far as COVID-19 restrictions, but that is not a good idea, letter writer warns
2020-10-09 David Williams
David Williams.

MidlandToday welcomes letters to the editor. This editor is in response to the call from various politicians and residents to split the north part of the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit into its own jurisdiction when it comes to COVID-19 restrictions. Send your letter to [email protected]


There is and has been a move, by some people, to separate Muskoka from Simcoe County, as far as restrictions for COVID-19 go, and I understand these concerns. However, I do not want to see the restrictions for COVID-19 separated between Simcoe and Muskoka especially at this time with the variants of concerns.  

I heard the news report that the scientific director of Ontario’s COVID-19 Science Table state that the province will need to enact a third lockdown even harsher than what was enacted in the past in order to avoid a crippling surge in COVID-19 cases that will be brought on by the spread of the B.1.1.7 variant.  

Dr. Peter Jüni says that Ontario is currently experiencing “two pandemics” at the same time, with older “wild” variants of the virus well under control and receding, while the variants of concern, mainly the B.1.1.7 variant first detected in the United Kingdom, continue an exponential climb. 

Dr Juni and his Science Table have been warning over the past four weeks that the variants of concern would spoil efforts to curb COVID-19 infection that spanned through January and February.  

“We need once more, firmer restrictions – firmer than before actually,” Juni said. “If we lock down once more it will be the last time we will have to do that.”  

Their calculations show that the so-called “wild” or “early” variants of coronavirus are receding, with a reproduction number of 0.9, meaning every 10 infected persons will go on to infect 9 others.  

But among the variant of concern cases, now representing 40 per cent of all infections in the province, they had a reproduction number of 1.24, signalling exponential forward growth.  

All of Ontario was under a state of emergency and stay-at-home order for more than one month starting Jan. 13, after which most of the province was allowed to reopen. The last regions of the province – Toronto, Peel and North Bay – just exited the stay-at-home order on Monday.  

Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. David Williams, said Thursday that another lockdown was possible.  

"Can the province move back into a state of emergency – they certainly can," he said, adding that the cabinet is aware of the situation and everyone is working to avoid the possibility of a third lockdown as much as possible.

It would seem that the province needs to listen to Dr. Juni and the Science Table and enact a third lockdown.

Doug Abernethy