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Coronavirus public health Q&A with Dr. Vinita Dubey (June 4)

Last Updated Jun 7, 2020 at 1:34 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.

Toronto’s Associate Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Vinita Dubey, answered your COVID-19 related public health questions in a LIVE video interview on Thursday, June 4, on our Facebook page as well as here on our website.

Here are a few questions Dr. Dubey addressed:

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

Q: There’s been a lot of talk about collecting race-based data with regards to COVID-19. The province recently said that they’re looking into changing legislation in order to be able to collect that more accurately. Where does Toronto stand on collecting race-based data?
A: This is a very relevant question in light of what is going on around the world right now.

Right now Toronto Public Health has actually started collecting that data. It’ll be a few more weeks before we actually have data that we can share publicly, but it’s something that we’re very committed to sharing.

We’ve done some preliminary analysis at the population level that has shown that racialized populations do have some disparities (when it comes to being affected by COVID-19), which is why we’re collecting it. And so I can say we are collecting in Toronto and we will share that data once we have enough available to share,

We’ll find ways to be able to share it publicly. You can also watch the Medical Officer for Health’s remarks daily. This is data that we will definitely be able to provide and share with others. We won’t just slip it in there.

Q: Is a pregnant mother and her unborn child at greater risk when going out in public?
A: I’ve just recently been trying to get some more information on pregnancy by reaching out to some of my colleagues from the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists to get some more advice for pregnancy.

This is what I can tell you right now: COVID doesn’t seem to impact people who are pregnant more often.

If you are pregnant and get COVID and you have a chronic medical condition, then you may have a more severe illness.  But being pregnant in and of itself may not make you get a more severe illness.

We know that women who have been pregnant with got COVID have had healthy babies. You might have a pre-term birth,  but in general, I would say that with everything involved in pregnancy, it’s better to avoid getting COVID. And so taking extra precautions in pregnancy is still definitely recommended.

We also have posted updated information on pregnancy on our website.

Click here: COVID-19 and pregnancy

Further, it doesn’t seem that COVID-19 passes from mother to child when the baby is in the tummy. If you deliver and you have COVID and are contagious, you could pass it to the baby then. There are precautions that you can take to prevent your baby from getting COVID like wearing gloves and a mask and the other recommendations of washing your hands etc.

Q: There is some evidence that COVID-19 may be contagious via fecal-oral transmission. Are public washrooms going to be retrofitted to have mandated toilet lids? So many public toilets don’t and flushing aerosolizes fecal matte in a toilet into airborne microspray.
A: That’s a really complicated and well thought out question.

What we know is that in some studies they’ve been able to find the virus in feces. But because they found it in feces doesn’t mean that that’s how it spreads.
So fecal-oral means from the poop you can get it, you can eat it, you can touch your face — but it doesn’t seem to be able to spread that way.

Now first of all, if you have the virus and are contagious, you’re supposed to be at home. And so you shouldn’t be using public bathrooms to begin with.

But in the event that you use a public bathroom, those feces, even if they had virus in them are not likely to spread the virus to others.

And so what we have actually given some recommendations to the parks and recreation department in the city for is cleaning bathrooms — all the surfaces in there — those are probably your bigger risks in a public bathroom. And so, again, washing your hands is really important.

Watch the full interview with web writer Dilshad Burman in conversation with Dr. Vinita Dubey in the video above.

Scroll through the questions submitted to this session below.

Note: questions were moderated before appearing in the chat window