TORONTO — Ontario’s health minister says the province is carefully considering a request from Toronto and Peel Region to delay loosening restrictions in those communities for two weeks. 

Christine Elliott says the province’s top doctor will be looking at new pandemic data today that will inform his recommendation on what should be done for the two COVID-19 hot spots. 

The medical officers for Toronto and Peel wrote to Ontario’s chief medical officer of health recently, saying lifting a stay-at-home order and other restrictions next week as the province has planned would lead to more illness and death.

Dr. Eileen de Villa and Dr. Lawrence Loh asked for those pandemic measures to remain in place until at least March. 9. 

They said they were concerned by the threat posed by more contagious variants of the virus and said hospitalizations due to COVID-19 are still too high.

Peel and Toronto are among four remaining Ontario regions that have yet to move from the stay-at-home order back to the province’s the colour-coded pandemic restrictions system.

The Progressive Conservative government has defended its decision to proceed with loosening restrictions for most of the province despite warnings it might set off a third wave. 

Ontario reported 1,038 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday and 44 more deaths linked to the virus.

Another 12,383 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine were administered in the province since Wednesday’s update, and Ontario has now given out more than 500,000 vaccine doses.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 18, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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