Community spread of COVID-19 cannot be ruled out in Ontario, public health officials say

Ontario health officials have announced new guidelines to help curb the spread of the new coronavirus, saying they "cannot rule out community transmission."

Chief Medical Officer Dr. David Williams told an afternoon news conference Monday they're now recommending that there should be no gatherings over 50 and no recreational programs. Williams also recommended the closure of all private schools, all daycares and all bars and restaurants, except those that can do takeout and delivery.

Officials are recommending that those who do not show symptoms of COVID-19 and did not travel should ensure they are practising social distancing.

Those who might have been exposed to another person with COVID-19 are asked to self-monitor for symptoms for 14 days.

The situation is evolving and COVID-19 cases have gone up quite quickly, said Dr. Barbara Yaffe, director of communicable disease control and the associate medical officer of health for Ontario Public Health.

There are a growing number of cases from the United States, she added.

Officials say they are still trying to contain the spread of COVID-19 in the province, and that the vast majority of cases in Ontario are relatively mild and have not required hospitalization.