“We have way more in terms of control measures in place,” Goel says in response to the argument some have made that those most dire indicators are now on the cusp of flaring up. “If we look at how many companies and organizations still have people working from home, so the number of daily interactions are limited, we have physical distancing and other requirements, we don’t have big conferences, sports events, theatres — so we are already starting from a baseline of control measures that didn’t exist back in March.”
On Monday, Ontario reported 700 new cases of COVID-19, the highest number the province had ever recorded. Shortly after the figures were made public, the Ontario Hospital Association (OHA) called for the province to return to a Stage 2 lockdown, which included added restrictions for most businesses.
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“We have to really start to think more about all the different data elements and be very clear with Canadians on that strategy and also be clear with Canadians that the strategy is on maximizing overall health,” says Goel.
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That overall health of society includes things like keeping businesses going and the schools open. “We know that unemployment is a major predictor for poor health outcomes and deaths,” Goel notes. “It’s not just about minimizing COVID-19. We also want to ensure our children can develop, we want to keep people working, because if you can’t put food on the table that will effect your health.”
Part of the challenge right now is that the government hasn’t clearly communicated their objective. “Is it containment or eradication? Is it learning to live with it? Is it trying to maximize health across all angles?” Goel asks.
“While eradication is a worthy stretch objective, we need to be realistic and unless we’re going to somehow build a wall and become more like New Zealand and have really drastic control measures, it’s going to be really difficult for Canada to have eradication.
“We have to think about what the world is going to be like until there are effective vaccines fully deployed, and even in that scenario we may still have some cases. So it means we have to learn how to live with this.”
This doesn’t mean Goel thinks there isn’t much more work to be done. He wants to see more testing, contact tracing and supports the use of tracing apps.
This content was originally published here.