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Canada’s top docs say “conversation” needs to happen around institutional care of seniors, stop short of calling for a public inquiry

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

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

Canada’s Deputy Chief Public Health Officer says a national conversation about how we treat and house our elders needs to happen. Dr. Howard Njoo says what form this national conversation takes is not for him to say.  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 stated that he reflected what Health Minister Patty Hadju had discussed previously about the need after this is all over to have a “national conversation”. The nature and forms he says are to be determined.

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

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 are involved and that absolutely “we’ve got to do better as a nation.”

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