Ontario infectious disease doctor says British Columbia has “leveled off”, urges slow, steady reopening


One of the first Canadian infectious disease specialists to spot the COVID-19 crisis earlier this year, says British Columbia’s public health performance is the subject of Ontario.

Dr. Michael Gardam, chief of staff at the Humber River Hospital in Toronto, is a veteran of respiratory outbreaks, including the 2003 SARS epidemic in Ontario.

He says the steady decline in the number of deaths and hospital admissions in this province is good news – according to B.C. in a good place to ease the restrictions.

Gardam is confident that British Columbia has reached the peak of the initial wave of COVID-19 infections. Most of the new cases are now linked to known epidemics, and hospital admissions have declined since early April.

3 weeks before Ontario

“Not only have you reached a plateau, but you are descending on the other side. You’re probably three weeks ahead of Ontario and Quebec, “said Gardam.

Provincial health worker Dr. Bonnie Henry reported earlier this week that British Columbia is well positioned to begin lifting the restrictions. (MIke McArthur / CBC)

“That’s all I’ve ever heard of in Toronto, it’s British Columbia. As far as public health issues are concerned, it is unfortunately always a step in the right direction for British Columbia. [and] still bad for Ontario, “he said.

BEFORE CHRIST. Health worker Dr. Bonnie Henry reported on Monday that slower transmission rates and increased testing are putting the province in a good position to start lifting the restrictions.

“We are approaching that time when we can begin to open up,” said Henry during his April 27 briefing.

But Gardam warns that as restrictions are relaxed, it is important that people are not too aggressive with the reopening of businesses, parks and the resumption of large rallies.

“We haven’t stopped it from spreading. These potential cases are still there, ”he said.

Gardam says that each province has a different situation, so unique approaches make sense.

But he said Canadians can expect health strategies to change as businesses reopen, activities resume, and people are no longer isolated.

He said protecting vulnerable groups through testing and contact tracing has been effective in places like New Zealand and Australia.

Gardam said that Ontario has now tested more people per capita than British Columbia, and that larger tests are becoming more important as restrictions are relaxed.

The McCleery Golf Club in Vancouver reopened on Friday. (Ben Nelms / CBC)

“We have not done this in world history, so no one knows which is the correct answer,” said Gardam.

No regular flu

But he is irritated by those who see COVID-19 as nothing more than a high-profile flu.

“This is not a regular flu,” said Gardam.

Gardam says that people who believe it is “completely wrong” and “maddening”.

Gardam said the COVID-19 death rate is more “orders of magnitude” than the flu, even taking into account all of the asymptomatic cases of the two viral culprits.

Infectious disease expert Dr. Michael Gardam said not only has COVID-19 levels in British Columbia leveled off, but the province “is actually going to the other side.” (Craig Chivers / CBC)

He was one of the first to detect the danger after seeing an alert regarding an epidemic in China.

There is no formal global system for analyzing social media to monitor potential outbreaks. But there are systems run by volunteers that display alerts. ProMED, run by the International Society of Infectious Diseases, is a program monitored by experts.

Gardam saw an alert in late December that described “pneumonia of unknown etiology” in Wuhan, China.

“This is the hell of an infectious bat”

Gardam was not initially alarmed, but that changed as reports continued to arrive. Despite WHO assurances that there was little initial evidence of human-to-human transmission, Gardam said his instinct had intervened.

“As cases continued to arrive, I thought it must be the hell of an infectious bat,” he said.

“It’s like” OK, is it going to have legs? Or is it going to stop? “”

He says it is never easy and often dangerous to be the first person to see something like COVID-19 start.

“We are never ready for this,” he said.

He gave the example of Wuhan’s doctor – Dr. Li Wenliang, 34, who died after trying to alert people to the danger.

“He was trying to expose something that people hadn’t yet recognized. “

Dr. Li Wenliang warned his medical colleagues to wear protective clothing due to a new virus. Li died of the new coronavirus in Wuhan on February 7, 2020. (Li Wenliang / CNN)


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