An infectious disease doctor is warning that he wouldn’t rule out another COVID-19 lockdown in Ontario in the next 12 months.

Infectious disease specialist Dr. Abdu Sharkawy told CTV News on Friday that he believes provinces like Ontario and Quebec are moving forward with their reopening plans when COVID-19 is still not completely under control. 

“I certainly wouldn’t rule that out,” Sharkawy said when asked if he foresees another lockdown possible in the next year. “There is a lot of juggling in terms of policy and decisions with respect to the multi-phase reopening.”

“You pair that with the possibility we may not completely clear this first wave before the flu season starts sometime in late fall … I am quite concerned there is a possibility we might not even see the end of the first wave, never mind a second wave of the pandemic come the winter.”

Sharkawy’s comments come on the same day parts of Ontario took another major step in the province’s reopening plan.

The majority of Ontario’s public health unit regions moved forward to Stage 2 on Friday, ending the months-long closure for some businesses, like restaurants and hair salons, crippled financially by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The Greater Toronto Area, which accounts for more than 67 per cent of all COVID-19 cases in Ontario to date, along with a few other regions like Niagara and Windsor, are not included on the list of health units moving forward to Stage 2. 

Ontario reported its first case of COVID-19 on January 25, a man in his 50s who travelled to China. Businesses were forced to quickly close in March as the number of COVID-19 cases surged across the province. There were serious fears hospitals would quickly become unable to cope with the number of infected patients.

“We need to be absolutely cautious about this,” Sharkawy said. “Remember what we did to flatten the curve and try to go back to that.”

“This virus does not travel on its own. It needs a vehicle and that vehicle is us. Let’s do what’s within our own power to make sure we don’t allow it to continue to spread through our community.”

Earlier this month, Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam warned that Canada could see “explosive growth” in COVID-19 cases if it did not reopen with caution. 

“These models all tell us that if we relax too much, or too soon, the epidemic will most likely rebound with explosive growth as a distinct possibility,” Tam said. 

Tam said that until there is an effective vaccine or treatment for the disease, Canadians must continue adhering to public safety measures to ward off a spike in cases.  

Ontario recorded fewer than 200 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday for the first time in months. Health officials reported 182 new cases of the disease, bringing the provincial total to 31,726. This was the first time the case number fell into the 100s since late March. 

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