Canada’s top doctor on Friday offered some advice to those grappling with whether it’s a good idea to attend various events amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“Canadians should ask themselves some quick check questions — two about the risk factors and two about the location of the event or activity,” Canada’s chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam said at a briefing.
To determine if attending an event is right for you, Tam said to start with an assessment of the risk to your own health.
“Are you at high risk of developing serious complications if you become infected?” she said.
According to Health Canada, those facing an increased risk of severe illness include older adults, anyone with a weakened immune system and those with medical conditions such as heart disease, lung disease, hypertension, diabetes or cancer.
If you had to self-isolate due to exposure, ask yourself whether that would be a serious disruption to your plans or responsibilities to those who are in the high-risk category, Tam said.
Then assess the risk of the event location itself. Consider whether the organizer has taken steps to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission by doing things like making it easy to maintain physical distance from others while indoors and requiring attendees to wear face masks, Tam said.
Also, ask yourself: what happens if this event gets riskier partway through?
“Are you able to adjust your plans at the event or activity, for example, by stepping away if it gets crowded, wearing a mask and washing your hands?” Tam said.
Finally, Tam said that anyone experiencing symptoms — even mild ones — should avoid attending any events and get tested for COVID-19.
Tam made the remarks ahead of the Labour Day long weekend, when Canadians may be tempted to let their guard down — and possibly become exposed to COVID-19.
Anything anyone can do to reduce their risk of transmission right now is really important as children and post-secondary students are returning to school, she said.
Many parts of Canada are seeing a fresh uptick in new cases, particularly in Western Canada and Quebec.
As of Friday afternoon, 130,745 cases of COVID-19 have been diagnosed and 9,140 people have succumbed to the illness.
Tam said the pandemic is under “manageable control” but that could change quickly depending on the actions of the public.
She specifically referenced the threat of attending large parties and similar events.
“It is the kind of setting, we’ve heard from British Columbia, from other provinces, that it’s those kind of settings that have contributed to our outbreak, some of them pretty large,” she said.
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