Health Sector Responses to the COVID-19 Pandemic in Ontario, Canada - January to May 2020

Iwona A. Bielska,

Derek R. Manis,

Connie Schumacher,

Emily Moore,

Kaitlin Lewis,

Gina Agarwal,

Shawn Mondoux,

Lauren Jewett,

David J. Speicher,

Rebecca H. Liu,

Matthew Leyenaar,

Brent McLeod,

Suneel Upadhye

Słowa kluczowe: COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2, Ontario, Health Care Sector, Health Policy

The first positive case of COVID-19 in Canada was identified on January 25, 2020, in the city of Toronto, Ontario. Over the following four months, the number of individuals diagnosed with COVID-19 in Ontario grew to 28,263 cases. A state of emergency was announced by the Premier of Ontario on March 17, 2020, and the provincial health care system prepared for a predicted surge of COVID-19 patients requiring hospitalization. The Chief Medical Officer of Health and the Minister of Health guided the changes in the system in response to the evolving needs and science related to COVID-19. The pandemic required a rapid, concerted, and coordinated effort from all sectors of the system to optimize and maximize the capacity of the health system. The response to the pandemic in Ontario was complex with some sectors experiencing multiple outbreaks of COVID-19 (i.e. long-term care homes and hospitals). Notably, numerous sectors shifted to virtual delivery of care. By the end of May 2020, it was announced that hospitals would gradually resume postponed or cancelled services. This paper explores the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on multiple health system sectors (i.e., public health, primary care, long-term care, emergency medical services, and hospitals) in Ontario from January to May 2020. Given the scope of the sectors contributing to the health system in Ontario, this analysis of a regional response to COVID-19 provides insight on how to improve responses and better prepare for future health emergencies.

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