Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, is urging Canadians to remain vigilant on the Covid-19 front.
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to create stress and anxiety for many Canadians, particularly those who do not have access to their regular support networks. Through the Wellness Together Canada online portal, people of all ages across the country can access immediate, free and confidential mental health and substance use supports, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
In a statement released Sunday via the Public Health Agency of Canada, Dr. Tam said there is stigma and discrimination being associated with people who have COVID-19 or whose family members have become infected.
“This may happen, for example, when people link an illness, such as COVID-19, with a certain race, industry, or community which can lead to stereotyping and treating people unfairly,” said Tam. Canada’s top doc praised most Canadians for being supportive and compassionate, but added it doesn’t excuse the bad behaviour of those who act inappropriately towards others.
“Stigma and discrimination is not only unfair and disrespectful, it can be very harmful to our mental health, and can cause people to be apprehensive or afraid to get tested for COVID-19 or access the care, treatment and support they need. Addressing and preventing stigma is essential to making our communities safer and healthier,” she said.
Dr. Tam stated that Canadians can become more proactive not only by sharing valid information, but also by being a voice for valid and factual information when others s are seeking to confuse people with false and unreliable narratives. “Canadians are urged to remain vigilant, continue following local public health advice, and consistently maintain individual practices that keep us and our families safer:
- stay home/self-isolate if you have any symptoms, think about the risks and reduce non-essential activities and outings to a minimum
- avoid all non-essential travel
- maintain individual protective practices of physical distancing, hand, cough and surface hygiene and wearing a well-fitted and properly worn face mask as appropriate (including in shared spaces, indoors or outdoors, with people from outside of your immediate household).
Dr. Tam said, “Aiming to have the fewest interactions with the fewest number of people, for the shortest time, at the greatest distance possible, while wearing the best-fitting mask is a simple rule that we can all apply to help limit the spread of COVID-19, as vaccine programs expand to protect all Canadians.”