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Ford defends public absence of top health official amid sixth wave of pandemic


Premier Doug Ford is defending the relative absence of Ontario's top doctor from the public eye amid a sixth wave of the pandemic that has driven a 40 per cent week-over-week increase in hospitalizations.

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore had provided weekly updates about COVID-19 since assuming his role, often using them as an opportunity to tout the benefits of vaccination or remind the public of the importance of keeping their distance and limiting contacts.

The briefings, however, were suspended last month amid an improving viral picture, and it has now been four weeks since Ontario's top health official has addressed reporters.

Back in March, Moore had said he would still speak publicly when the COVID-19 situation merited it, but he has been largely absent through the sixth wave. On Wednesday, when the province announced plans to expand fourth dose eligibility to residents 60 and up, he did not make a statement.

During a press conference to discuss an unrelated matter on Wednesday morning, Ford was asked whether Ontarians would be able to hear from Moore anytime soon but he largely sidestepped the question, instead defending the work ethic of his top health official.

"Let me tell you about Dr. Moore. Dr. Moore is one of the hardest working people I have ever met. He never rests, he works around the clock for the people of Ontario. Just yesterday he had a meeting with all public health officers throughout the province," he said. "He is on the job 24/7 looking at the figures, looking at the stats and giving myself and our cabinet advice and he has done an incredible job from day one. I am his biggest fan."

Ford's comments on Wednesday come in the wake of the medical director of critical care at Michael Garron Hospital publicly calling on Moore to resume regular briefings in a video message posted to Twitter on Tuesday night.

In that video, Dr. Michael Warner accused the government of "pretending” like a resurgence of COVID isn’t happening and said that they are failing to take the necessary steps to protect Ontarians, including a return to mandatory masking.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford (right) trades places with Kieran Moore, the Chief Medical Officer of Health as they attend a media briefing at the Ontario Legislature in Toronto, Friday, Dec. 17, 2021. Further restrictions were announced to combat the increasing spear of the Omicron variant of COVID-19. HE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

Ford, however, brushed aside suggestions that the province's hospitals could soon be overwhelmed while speaking with reporters on Wednesday, highlighting recent investments the province has made to add additional beds.

Medical experts, it should be noted, have said that there is not sufficient staff to manage many of those beds, making the capacity largely theoretical.

"I am not downplaying it," Ford said. "We have the supports, we have the beds, we are a population of 15 million people and out of the 15 million we have 160 the ICU (with COVID) that have been there for quite some time." Top Stories

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