Ontario Medical Association sends urgent appeal to public to be COVID careful as Christmas nears

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Wear a mask, wash your hands and keep your distance. Those familiar bits of advice were issued "urgently" by Ontario doctors Thursday as the best way to get through the holiday season.

With the Christmas season less than one month away, the Ontario Medical Association (OMA) issued the plea to all Ontario residents and said that taking the right precautions is the only way to get ahead of COVID-19, especially for those living in Ontario hotspots.

"If every single one of us doesn't do our part, things could get even worse as we enter the holiday season," said Dr. Samantha Hill, president of the Ontario Medical Association.

"More people will get sick and die. Our hospitals will be overwhelmed. We all have a responsibility – and the power – to prevent this from happening."

Everyone, including doctors working on the front lines, is suffering from pandemic fatigue and yearning to return to "the way things used to be" Hill said in the OMA news release.

"We're now appealing to the public directly to help us," said Hill, adding that Ontario's doctors are endorsing the efforts by the Ontario government to do whatever is needed to try to bring things back to normal.

Hill said the best and fastest way to return to the "new normal" is to follow public health guidelines during this holiday season even if it means staying home throughout the holidays and celebrating only with members of your own household. If you are a student or another person travelling home for the holidays, please quarantine for 10 to 14 days said Hill.

She repeated the familiar precautions of hand washing, mask wearing, physical distancing and keeping away from any crowds.

The OMA release said doctors believe that stopping the spread and reopening Ontario safely and for a sustained length of time will require better testing, contact tracing and isolation of everyone who has or might have COVID, and the doctors have offered to work with Premier Ford to make this happen.

"There are many reasons to be optimistic about turning the corner next year," said OMA CEO Allan O'Dette. "There is positive news about the effectiveness of vaccine candidates. But we must continue to physically distance and look after one another to get the spread under control. I just want to remind everyone that we are all in this together and together we will conquer this.

Len Gillis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Sudbury.com