York Region's top doctor speaks out about 'definitely justified' stay-at-home order


BARRIE, ONT. -- Ontario's recent stay-at-home orders have been met with more backlash and protests, prompting some local doctors to speak out and remind the public why the shutdown is necessary.

York Region's Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Karim Kurji, had been against lockdowns and forcing residents to remain home because of the fallout for local businesses, but he's since had a change of heart.

"At this point in time, given the rapid rise in the cases of COVID-19, a stay-at-home order is definitely justified."

York Region has seen a recent spike in COVID-19 cases. "We have redirected the staff that would normally be immunizing at Canada's Wonderland and at Georgina's Ice Palace to be assisting with case and contact management," Kurji said.

Despite vaccine supply shortages, 11,000 appointments opened in York for residents 45 to 54 in specific hot spots. Kurji said running a unified operation has allowed them to "redirect vaccines from one area to another as appropriate."

"We are finding that we constantly have to reprioritize. For example, with respect to the hotspot areas, we have limited the use of the Moderna and the Pfizer vaccines to people under the age of 55 only because folks that are 55 and above can now access the AstraZeneca vaccine through numerous pharmacists that would be available in York Region," Kurji explained.

The York Region top doctor said vaccinations are the key to avoiding a fourth wave of COVID-19. "If we are aggressive with our immunization strategies and if we get the vaccine supplies that we are hoping to get, then we should have really immunized everyone certainly by sometime in June, at least certainly with the first dose.

Then hopefully, we can expedite the second dose administration if the vaccine supplies are there."

York Region currently has 3,681 active COVID-19 cases. To date, nearly 270,000 residents have received their vaccine.