TORONTO -- Toronto’s top public health official says that she anticipates that there will be “some increases” in the transmission of COVID-19 as “more and more people interact with each other” and return to activities that may have been “paused” earlier in the pandemic.

The seven-day average of new COVID-19 infections in the city dropped to a recent low of 15.9 at the beginning of the month but has been slowly trending upwards since then and now stands at 25 after 31 additional cases were added on Monday.

As a result, Toronto Public has now downgraded virus spread to yellow from green on its dashboard, suggesting that for the first time in more than a month there has not been a sustained 14-day decrease in new cases.

Speaking with reporters during her weekly briefing at city hall on Monday, Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa said that it was likely always inevitable that there would be some rise in cases as a result of the province gradually lifting restrictions that were put in place at the outset of the pandemic.

She said that Torontonians will, however, have a role to play in determining what happens next.

“Risk will go up as more and more people interact with each other. I think that is the simple reality of our circumstances,” she said. “That is why it is so, so important that we continue to maintain those public health measures. As much as we are tired of doing it and as much as we all want to put this pandemic behind us and think about it as something of the past the best way we can get there is to continue to practice those public health measures that we have been doing for the last number of months. Washing your hands, watching your distance, wearing your masks and certainly staying home if you are unwell, these are the kinds of activities that have seen us through thus far and the kinds of activities that we are going to continue to need to engage in on a go-forward basis.”

No ‘zero-risk scenario’

De Villa said that until there is a vaccine and effective treatments for COVID-19 there is unlikely to be any “zero-risk scenario,” even if infections become less prevalent locally.

For that reason, she said that residents should expect some fluctuation in the four key indicators tracked by Toronto Public Health, three of which remain in the green.

She also said that residents should get used to living with the virus and more importantly used to using public health measures, like wearing masks and maintaining distance, to “mitigate risk.”

“I know this pandemic has disrupted almost every aspect of our lives and I know that we are all feeling COVID fatigue and we would like to put this pandemic behind us but I also know that so many people in Toronto and around the world are experiencing immeasurable losses as they mourn loved ones who lost their lives to this virus,” she warned.

“We must remember there are many jurisdictions who have had to take steps back after reopening. I don’t want this to happen in our city and it doesn’t have to.”