Learning to live with COVID-19 requires permanent fixes to vulnerable settings


OTTAWA — Canada’s chief public health officer says stopping COVID-19 and any future outbreaks will require not only a permanent increase to how often we wash our hands, but a rethinking of how we manage the most vulnerable people in our communities.

Dr. Theresa Tam says there is still a lot we do not know about the novel coronavirus, including whether people can contract it more than once, or how many Canadians can actually have it.

She is on a new national task force that is trying to close those gaps by tracing how many people have already been exposed to the virus and whether any of them are now immune to it.

She says understanding those things is critical to safely guiding Canadians back to work and school.

Tam also says COVID-19 has exposed deep problems that must be fixed now to protect residents of long-term care centres and other group settings, as well the risks faced by the essential workers who look after them.

COVID-19 is disproportionately affecting Canada’s long-term care homes, as well as health-care workers, and employees at critical businesses including grocery stores and pharmacies.