Ontario Premier Doug Ford answers questions from the media at a COVID-19 mass vaccination clinic in Toronto, Wednesday, March 10, 2021. Ontario is expected to announce new public health restrictions to address surging COVID-19 case rates. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Ontario Premier Doug Ford answers questions from the media at a COVID-19 mass vaccination clinic in Toronto, Wednesday, March 10, 2021. Ontario is expected to announce new public health restrictions to address surging COVID-19 case rates. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Ontario to announce 28-day provincewide ‘shutdown’ today: source

Ontario reported 2,333 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday

TORONTO — The Canadian Press has learned that Ontario is expected to announce a 28-day provincewide “shutdown” today to stop the spread of COVID-19 as an alarming spike in cases threatens the critical care system.

A source with knowledge of the restrictions discussed at an hours-long cabinet meeting Wednesday night says the final details of the new measures will be worked out this morning.

The source, who was not authorized to speak publicly about the announcement, says schools will remain open after the Easter weekend.

Premier Doug Ford urged Ontarians earlier this week to stay home and not make plans for the Easter long weekend in anticipation of the new rules.

Ontario reported 2,333 new cases of COVID-19 Wednesday and 15 more deaths linked to the virus.

The province also had 421 COVID-19 patients in intensive care units — a new high.

More than 150 intensive care unit doctors signed an open letter to Ford, Health Minister Christine Elliott, and chief medical officer Dr. David Williams on Thursday, calling for new, stricter, measures.

“The current measures and framework are not working to contain the spread of this virus,” reads the letter in part. “Even if we had unlimited ICU capacity, allowing these (variants of concern) to spread exponentially is unethical.”

The letter says doctors are seeing younger patients on ventilators, many of whom are parents of school-aged children. It notes people admitted to intensive care have contracted COVID-19 at work or who have followed all the rules and only gone out for groceries.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 1, 2021.

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