In the second part of an extensive interview with CBC News, Dr. Theresa Tam, Chief Public Health Officer of Canada, said that when Canadians return to work, it will not be the same type of workplace as before the pandemic.
“In fact, I think businesses and Canadians will come up with ideas and I think public health is asking:” Well, here are some metrics, come up with a plan on how your workplace could be redesigned “”, a Tam told the CBC. Rosemary Barton.
Tam suggested that some workplaces could encourage more employees to work from home or stagger shift start times so that many people do not crowd public transit at the same times of day .
“The new normal, when we get there, is one that is not the same as before,” said Tam. “It is a vision that could see our society functioning in different ways. “
Watch: The Chief Public Health Officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, describes what life could be like in the future:
Tam noted that travelers are now required to wear masks when flying or crossing international borders and suggested that the practice could be expanded.
“How we actually maintain a certain physical distance as some companies start to open up and workplaces readjust to the new normal – I think it will have profound changes in society, including perhaps our acceptance of people wearing masks, “she said.
Tam said the provinces will have to meet certain criteria before relaxing public health standards to prevent a resurgence of the disease.
“Profound changes in society”
“Part of … this new standard is to make sure the epidemic curve in your area has gone down,” said Tam, adding that once the bottom of the curve is reached, a population must maintain this lower number of cases and widely test the disease to prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed.
A framework for the reopening of Canadian economies, jointly agreed to by the federal, provincial and territorial governments, was released earlier today.
The prerequisites of the plan to ease restrictions and reopen savings include:
- Transmission of COVID-19 is under control, so that healthcare systems can manage the number of new cases with “substantial” clinical care capacity and a stabilized number of hospitalizations, with the possible exception of isolated outbreaks.
- Sufficient public health capacity to test, monitor and isolate cases.
- Support to help vulnerable groups and communities.
- Measures to prevent the introduction and spread of COVID-19 in the workplace.
- A plan to limit the risk of importation of the virus by relaxing and managing restrictions on non-essential domestic travel in a coordinated manner, while recognizing that the reopening of international borders can only take place at later stages.
Tam also told CBC News that one of the features of the new standard would be the lack of cruise ships in Canadian waters.
“We will postpone cruise ships entering Canada and reassess it,” she said. “The reassessment is in July, but let’s just say it can’t happen here, because the introduction would be huge. You would have thousands of passengers entering the port. “
A slow and gradual relaxation of restrictions is necessary, said Tam, to avoid a second outbreak.
“I just have the image of New York in my head. And I think I would never want this to happen anywhere in Canada, “she said. “And if we let things start too quickly, we could have that kind of push. “
The World Health Organization [WHO] was accused of trusting too much information about the virus and its death toll from China.
Watch: Theresa Tam says health experts have underestimated COVID-19 and that it would be “worth looking into” the WHO response.
Tam said she appreciates the challenges that WHO faces in trying to get ahead of a new, rapidly evolving disease.
“I think it’s a very difficult job to do, very honestly,” said Tam. “We have a federated system with different provinces and territories. WHO has to serve more than 190 member states … The data is what it is, you are going to have to work with information by the time you receive it, and it may be incomplete.
“I don’t know if WHO could have obtained more information. What I cannot necessarily know. “
Tam said that although she would welcome a review of WHO’s advice on the pandemic, she does not blame him for her initial response because health experts around the world “underestimated where it could go” .
“I think it is still worth looking into what happened and it is actually a normal process,” she said. “Especially after such an extraordinary and unprecedented event, we would still like… [to] see what could be done better. ”
Tam stressed that WHO is only as good as the information provided to it by member states. She said that while Canada prepared its response from the start as if COVID-19 was going to be a pandemic, Canadian officials “had no idea” at the outset “whether it would.”
“Estimates of the transmissibility of the virus and its severity [were] not clear at first, “she said. Most of my colleagues, some of whom are much more experienced than me, were not sure what the situation was. I don’t know what more could have been done. ”
Tam was asked about recent personal attacks on her – by Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, who accused her of repeating media lines from the People’s Republic of China, and by Conservative leadership contestant Derek Sloan, who asked if Tam was working for China.
“I’m really busy focusing on the real answer and that’s what I’m here to do,” she said.
Tam said she faces personal attacks – and the more racist and misogynistic abuse she receives online – by focusing “on how amazing Canadians have been” following public health guidelines.
“I just compartmentalized it,” she said. “I think everyone faces these things a little differently.
“I’ve always been someone who represents public health in its widest scope, its determinants of health … how we treat people in different ways affects people’s health, and that’s how I see it things.
“Stigma leads to poor health outcomes. And it doesn’t help our collective response. “