Middlesex-London Health Unit’s medical officer of health and the mayor of the City of London, Ont., are echoing Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Wednesday warning that normal Thanksgiving gatherings are likely out of the question as Canada is “on the brink” of a coronavirus surge.
In a speech to the nation on all major broadcasters Sept. 23, Trudeau warned the daily case counts are already much higher than they were when the country first locked down in March.
Locally, medical officer of health Dr. Chris Mackie stressed that the London region is at a “critical juncture where we have hit Wave 2 of the pandemic, but it hasn’t yet spread into the high-risk population, it’s just starting to do so.”
“Thanksgiving weekend we will see young people spreading COVID to elderly people,” he cautioned.
“You will see hospitalizations and deaths related to that. Please make sure that it’s not your grandparents.”
Mackie said Thanksgiving gatherings are “particularly risky” because they bring together different age groups — young people who may be more mobile in the community, and older people with more chronic diseases who could be more vulnerable to COVID-19.
He also reminded the public that private gatherings of more than 10 people indoors and 25 outdoors are strictly prohibited and even for small gatherings, precautions need to be taken.
“Just because you’re allowed to bring ten or twenty-five people together doesn’t mean you should go hugging, kissing, sharing utensils. We absolutely need to design our Thanksgiving gatherings in a way that will be as safe as possible,” he said.
“I’d recommend outdoors. I’d recommend disposable cutlery. I’d recommend trying to avoid shared food.”
Coronavirus: Ontario restricts social gatherings amid COVID-19 case surge
Mayor Ed Holder advised Londoners to remember that the holiday is “literally no different than any other weekend or weekday when there are opportunities for family and friends to come together.”
When it comes to limits on the size of gatherings, he added that if the weather takes a turn, people want to come inside.
“And so I would discourage large gatherings,” he said.
“The reality is, if we can work to keep Londoners safe, the advice for Thanksgiving is no different than any other day.”
For those planning gatherings that fall in line with public health protocols, including size limits, Mackie suggested even asking people to bring their own food and inventing a “family dance” or gesture instead of a hug.
“Anything we can do to try and limit contact between people.”
In London, 83 cases were recorded in the region between Sept. 12 and 24 compared to just 14 between Aug. 30 and Sept. 11.
–With files from Global News’ Amanda Connolly.
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