Canada could avoid full lockdown in fall by targeting outbreaks and not taking ‘our foot off the pedal’: Tam

Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam speaks as she is joined by Dr. Howard Njoo, Deputy Chief Public Health Officer, during a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Public must play role in ‘minimizing exposures, should a case occur’: Dr. Theresa Tam

As parts of Canada deal with an uptick in COVID-19 cases, the country’s chief public health officer says any future pandemic restrictions may be more nuanced than the full lockdown in spring.

“You can’t blanket certain businesses in one broad stroke,” Dr. Theresa Tam told The Current’s Matt Galloway.

“So what provinces and local public health are trying to do is say: ‘Well, what is the data showing in my community?'” she explained.

Tam said both businesses and health officials in B.C. have tried to manage a safe reopening, “but they’re still seeing outbreaks, and public health is having to chase down lots and lots of contacts.”

The data of where these outbreaks are occurring and who is being exposed is now being used “to drive the targeted response” in the province, she said.

It’s about “keeping businesses open, but in a different way — no restaurant looks the same anymore in terms of how they manage things.”

Infectious disease epidemiologist Ashleigh Tuite agreed there won’t be a “sudden and expansive shutting down of everything across a province.”

“I think we’ll see something that’s a bit more nuanced,” said Tuite, who is also a math modeller at the University of Toronto’s Dalla Lana School of Public Health.