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Dr. Tam warns young people they are not “invincible”

According to Health Canada, the country now has 38,515 active cases of COVID-19, with the death toll from the virus now at 8,146. The agency’s head said 60,272 Canadians have recovered, that’s 61% of the country’s 98,000 total confirmed cases.

Dr. Theresa Tam said labs across Canada have tested over 2.1-million people for COVID-19. Over the past week, an average of 33,000 people were tested daily with 2% returning positive.

Tam issued a reminder to Canadians that COVID-19 is still out there. Tam said she heard from her colleagues that younger people are going outside more and may not be respecting public health advice. Canada’s top doctor urged young Canadians to listen to local health units.

“If you feel young and somewhat invincible, that is definitely not the case,” said Tam.

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She said Monday is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, noting that home is not a safe place for many people experiencing family and gender-based violence, including child maltreatment, intimate partner violence, and elder abuse and neglect.

Tam said this kind of violence has devastating consequences for children, women, families, and communities, and that it can leave long-lasting impacts on physical and mental health. Tam said there are concerns about an increase in family and gender-based violence because of COVID-19, as some jurisdictions have observed increases in reports of domestic violence, causing cries for support lines and demand for emergency shelter. She also said child welfare organizations have observed a concerning decrease in the reporting of child abuse and neglect.

Tam acknowledges that public health measures necessary to slow the spread of COVID-19 are leaving some Canadians isolated with violent partners or family members during the pandemic, and typical community supports have not always been available to identify and support those at risk. Tam said if you are a woman experiencing violence, Shelter Safe can connect you with a shelter in your area. If you are a young person at risk or experiencing violence you can call or go to Kids Help Phone for confidential help and support. If you are in immediate danger, Tams said you should call 911 or local police.

If someone is a healthcare or social service provider, Tam said they may be one of the first points of contact for a person experiencing family violence. She said it is important they are equipped to recognize signs of family violence and to respond safely and effectively. According to Tam, the Public Health Agency of Canada has supported the development of evidence-based guidelines and online education resources to help first contact-responders recognize and safely respond to child maltreatment, intimate partner violence, and children’s exposure to intimate partner violence.

Tam also said the VEGA Family Violence Education Resources are free and publicly available in English and French.

She said family violence and gender-based violence are serious public health issues that affect children, youth, families, women, and communities.

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