Shomporko Desk:-Some public health and infectious disease experts are pressing for governments in Canada to move to minimize, not eradicating, COVID-19 while permitting society to continue working.
The open letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and all premiers, dated July 6, says expecting to forestall or contain each case isn’t supportable at this phase in the pandemic.
“We have to acknowledge that COVID-19 will be with us for quite a while and to discover approaches to manage it,” the 18 experts wrote.
Signatories include Dr. Gregory Taylor, Dr. Theresa Tam’s immediate predecessor as Canada’s chief public health officer; Dr. David Butler-Jones, the first person to hold the post; Dr. Robert Bell, a former deputy health minister in Ontario; Dr. Onye Nnorom, president of the Black Physicians’ Association of Ontario; Dr. Vivek Goel, former president of Public Health Ontario; and Dr. Joel Kettner, a former chief public health officer for Manitoba.
“The people who suffer most are those in lower-income settings who are trapped in apartment buildings and who do not have a nice deck or a cottage to escape to,” said Dr. Neil Rau, an infectious disease physician and medical microbiologist at the University of Toronto who signed the letter.
The basis of lockdowns and physical distancing was to flatten the epidemic curve so that health-care systems wouldn’t be overwhelmed with too many cases at once, Rau said. Stamping out the virus is a different goalpost.
The letter urges governments to respond to drops in disease incidence with careful relaxing of restrictions.
That way, schools, businesses and health-care facilities could carefully reopen, and family and friends could gather once again with confidence restored by appropriate precautions, it said.
Dr. Howard Njoo, Canada’s deputy chief public health officer, said he agrees overall with what’s in the letter.
Njoo called the various provincial approaches to reopening schools “a bit of a social experiment” based on both risk management and risk tolerance.
The signatories are concerned that current and proposed measures for reopening will continue to hit Black and other racialized groups, those in lower-income groups, recent immigrants, Indigenous peoples and other vulnerable populations disproportionately hard.
Reopening the economy is a priority for Mohammed Kaidali. He started driving a taxi in Toronto a couple of weeks ago to support his family, including four children.
While a rainy day is normally good for the taxi business, Kaidali said he struggled to get one fare in 3.5 hours.
“It’s very hard to survive,” he said.
Photo credit: RENE JOHNSTON / TORONTO STAR
News source: CBC News