Dr Tam hits back at criticism of posts, says advice has ‘evolved’ with science


OTTAWA – Canada’s Best Doctor responds to criticism that public health directions have changed during the COVID-19 pandemic, saying key messages have remained the same – but the advice has evolved along with the science. “Public health has always had key messages that were exactly the same,” Public Health Director Dr. Theresa Tam told CTV Question Period host Evan Solomon in a statement. interview broadcast Sunday.

She said those key messages include encouraging Canadians to physically distance themselves, wash their hands and reduce close contact. Public health advice, Tam insisted, has only “changed” as researchers learn more about the new coronavirus.

“Now science is evolving, understanding of the pandemic is evolving. So we need to evolve our public health measures, our advice, in parallel, ”Tam said.

She provided the mandate for non-medical masks as a key example of this, noting that the science on non-medical masks has evolved, so the recommendations have evolved as well. Public health officials have moved from their advice of discouraging the use of non-medical masks to requiring their use in public spaces.

“It’s science that evolves, and it’s our responsibility to evolve with it,” Tam said.

His comments come as some Canadians have expressed frustration with the public health messages. The main voices in those critiques have been business owners, some of whom have pushed back as restrictions force them to close their doors.

In a letter to the Prime Minister on Wednesday, Goldy Hyder, President and CEO of the Business Council of Canada, explained how “confusing” public messages can be.

“Canadians are increasingly frustrated by confusing and contradictory public health advice, causing some to lose confidence in the system’s ability to protect them. This cannot go unanswered, ”Hyder wrote.

There has also been some decline in the provinces. A coalition of fitness business owners in Quebec has stepped up its rhetoric in opposition to provincial COVID-19 restrictions that have closed their doors, threatening to reopen in defiance of the rules.

The 200 owners of gyms, yoga studios, martial arts and other fitness centers said unless the government provides data showing their centers are linked to COVID-19 outbreaks, they will reopen . Quebec Premier François Legault hit back, saying he would fine anyone who broke the rules. The coalition eventually backed down on the threat, opting for protests instead, but said it was ready to take further action.

Restaurant owners in red zones have echoed the complaints, calling for more evidence to validate the restrictions. The decision to roll back the rigging or treatment in Ontario’s hot zones also led to heated debate, with some experts questioning why the government would oppose something that experts say could be done with a relatively low risk.

“The goal should be to find ways to do things safely rather than undo,” wrote Isaac Bogoch, infectious disease physician. on Twitter October 19, when the news of the cancellation first appeared.

“Halloween shouldn’t be too difficult to do safely: outdoors wearing masks, limited to family units, away from others – is about as low as it gets. ”

Still, Tam said the sometimes seemingly conflicting advice is aimed at providing more targeted responses to the ongoing pandemic – thereby avoiding more widespread restrictions.

“We’re trying not to take general public health measures, we’re trying to target what’s going on in communities,” Tam said.

She said that to complete this marathon, everyone has to do their part.

“We need both the public and public health,” Tam said.


Just weeks after Canadian families canceled their Thanksgiving plans in an effort to keep the COVID-19 pandemic under control, experts are now hinting that similar precautions may be needed as the holidays approach.

“I think Christmas will not be the same as Christmas 2019. It’s a different kind of Christmas,” Tam said.

She warned that Canadians will need to complete individual risk assessments before considering any kind of gathering and that families will need to follow “basic basic public health measures.”

His comments come after Trudeau issued a similar warning on Tuesday.

“It’s frustrating having to explain to your kids in so many parts of the country, like here in Ottawa, that we are not going to make any traps this weekend. And it’s frustrating to know that if we’re not really, really careful, there might not be the kind of family reunions that we want to have on Christmas, ”Trudeau told reporters.

“My six-year-old asked me a few weeks ago, ‘Daddy, is COVID-19 forever?’ I mean, he’s in first grade, that was supposed to be his big year as a big boy, and they don’t even sing in his class. ”

Official public health guidelines have yet to be released for the holiday season, but Tam said one thing is certain now.

“I think Christmas will not be the same Christmas as last year and that we have to be very vigilant,” she said.

With files from CTV News’ Rachel Aiello


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