Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam responds to a question during a news conference Tuesday, December 8, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam responds to a question during a news conference Tuesday, December 8, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

EDITORIAL: Listen to the medical experts

Misinformation about COVID-19 could prove deadly

There’s a lot of vital, accurate information about the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

There are regular updates about the number of new cases and deaths. There is ongoing research into the virus, how to treat it and how to prevent it from spreading. And, there are details about the new vaccines which are now becoming available.

This information is coming from the medical community, including Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, and Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s public health officer.

READ ALSO: 5 things we’ve learned about COVID-19 since the pandemic struck

READ ALSO: B.C. records 41 COVID deaths and 1,667 new cases over the weekend

Both are leading health care officials, and are considered experts when they present information about the pandemic.

In 2006, Tam was a co-chair of a federal report on pandemic preparedness. Henry worked with the Canada Pandemic Influenza Plan, prepared in 2017.

They are among the most knowledgeable people in the world when it comes to pandemics. The same holds true for others who have devoted years of their lives to studying medicine and medical research.

Their knowledge provides guidance as we cope with COVID.

At the same time, there are also numerous people who are spreading half-truths and outright lies about the virus. These include COVID-deniers, those suggesting disproved and potentially dangerous treatment options, and uninformed folks questioning the validity of medical science.

The misinformation is dangerous, to the point of being deadly. Disregarding preventative measures puts us all at severe risk.

Repeating questionable or unproven statements discrediting treatment options is beyond reckless.

In Canada, an average of one in 25 closed COVID-19 cases resulted in a death, and many more have ongoing long-term health problems as a result. (A closed case is one in which the patient has either recovered or died. The statistics do not include those who are still battling the virus.)

When all cases, active and recovered, are calculated, the death rate is around 2.85 per cent, according to statistics from the federal government.

The only way to handle this virus is by following the best, most accurate information available. This means listening to the medical experts who know about COVID-19 and controlling pandemics.

Recommendations and directives from Tam, Henry and others are aimed at public safety. Ignoring or discounting them can have fatal consequences.

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