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Canada’s Top Docs Say “Conversation” Needs to Happen Around Institutional Care of Seniors

There are now just under 67,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Canada with 4,620 deaths. Nearly 13,000 of the cases are linked to long-term care homes and just over 3,600 deaths are among seniors residing in those settings.

As many areas of the country struggle to get ahead of the rapid and stealthy spread of the virus, Canada’s top doctors said this is nothing short of a national tragedy. Dr. Theresa Tam said the prevention and control of COVID-19 in high-risk populations is crucial for controlling future waves. Tam said the outbreaks drive up the case fatality rate and accelerate spread as cases spill over into communities.

Canada’s Deputy Chief Public Health Officer said a national conversation about how we treat and house our elders needs to happen. Dr. Howard Njoo said what form that national conversation takes is not for him to decide. He had previously stated that an inquiry into Canada’s long-term care homes is needed, but then clarified for the record that he is not personally asking for a public inquiry. Njoo reflected what Health Minister Patty Hadju previously discussed about the need to have a “national conversation” after the COVID-19 situation is over. Njoo said the nature and form of the conversation has yet to be determined.

Dr. Tam said such a conversation is critical to better manage and control another possible second wave of COVID-19 or even a future pandemic of another virus. However, Tam echoed her Deputy saying Health Canada is not going to speculate what format that will take.

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Tam ended saying this is a big societal conversation that is probably going to be many different separate conversations coming together because so many people will be involved.

“We’ve got to do better as a nation.”

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