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Coronavirus public health Q&A with Dr. Vinita Dubey (April 29)

Last Updated May 24, 2020 at 1:35 pm EDT

We know you have questions about the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and we’re working to get you the answers, straight from the most trusted sources.

We hosted a LIVE video interview with Toronto’s Associate Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Vinita Dubey on Wednesday, and she answered questions submitted by our viewers and listeners regarding their concerns about COVID-19.

Here are a few questions Dr. Dubey addressed:

(Questions have been edited for grammar, punctuation and clarity)

Q: What is the average length of time people with COVID-19 tend to have residual symptoms, such as a cough?
A: So, we know that by 14 days from when your symptoms start, most people have recovered from their symptoms, but that lingering cough, that mild cough can actually last for weeks. We call it a post-viral cough and it can actually be common after you’ve had many respiratory viral infections, where you have irritation in the lungs and that causes [the cough].

Q: Are people with sleep apnea more susceptible to COVID-19? If they use a C-PAP machine for their sleep apnea, should they separate themselves from a spouse or a partner and not sleep in the same room, because C-PAP machines give rise to aerosols?
A: What we know so far is that if you have a chronic medical condition — so heart disease, diabetes, sleep apnea would definitely be one of them — you are at higher risk, if you get COVID-19, to actually have a more serious illness.

Definitely with a C-PAP machine, because of the way the machine works — if you are in self isolation, if you’ve been exposed to someone who has COVID-19, or especially if you actually have it — absolutely, the recommendation would be that you sleep in a room on your own as much as possible to prevent spread others.

Q: Once you’ve been tested for COVID-19 and you recover, can you get reinfected or can the virus reactivate?
A: These are all really good questions and they’re actually questions that I want answers to as well. Because if you’ve had the infection and you’ve developed immunity and that immunity will last, well — that means then you’re not likely to get reinfected again.

It also means then, when we think about a second wave of this virus coming, those individuals will be protected. But we’re not clear that if you’ve been infected, that your immunity is actually going to last.

We know with coronaviruses, you tend not to develop lifelong immunity to these viruses — which is why we can get repeated colds in one year.

So we’re not sure, if you get the infection, whether you’re actually going to be protected further on from another COVID-19 infection. We’re also not clear on whether you could get a reactivation of the virus as well. These are things that we’re actively looking at following the scientific literature on.

Q: A recent Angus Reid survey showed that 50 percent of Canadian respondents said that their mental health was affected because of COVID-19. Is the city concerned about that and are there any city-run resources for people in terms of mental health?
A: Mental health is definitely on our minds. The response to COVID-19 has been really stressful and difficult from a mental health perspective. So it’s definitely a priority for us, actually, at all levels of government.

The Ministry of Health has announced funding for it and from Toronto Public Health, we’re supporting resources. There are a number of resources available for mental health on our website. There’s a section on mental health with a list of really good resources.

If someone’s ever not sure what to do — they’re not sick enough that they need to call 91-1— they can actually call 2-1-1 and they will link them to community agencies that could help them.

Watch the full Q&A: Web Writer Dilshad Burman in conversation with Dr. Vinita Dubey above.

Scroll through the questions submitted to this session below.

Note: Questions were moderated before appearing in the chat window.