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Coronavirus public health Q&A with Dr. Vinita Dubey (Aug 18)

Last Updated Oct 18, 2020 at 3:23 pm EST

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 all your COVID-19 related questions in a LIVE video interview on Tuesday, August 18 at 12:30 p.m. 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: Do you know when fitness programs for seniors can start indoors?
A: We actually have guidance on our website related to fitness centers. We also have guidance related to older adults. So please go to our website if you’re working with these groups and feel free to call us if you have any specific questions.

There is no restriction on having fitness centers or activities open for seniors because seniors are at higher risk. We do recommend that they take additional precautions. Make sure that in the class, everyone is physically distanced and wearing masks before and after you’re doing extensive cardio. If you’re not doing extensive cardio then to wear masks throughout.
We have a guidance document for seniors themselves so that they know what precautions they should take. They may choose not to do an indoor class because it does have a bit of higher risk. So I think that’s a question that every senior themselves can answer as well.

Q: When visiting seniors in long-term care homes, is there a concern for transferring the virus on gifts like flowers, food items or fresh fruit?
A: In general, we don’t think that the virus transmits very easily on packages. That’s why we don’t recommend that you have to wipe the groceries down when you bring them home. I think the most important thing is that if you’re bringing such gifts, first of all, you should find out from the home, whether you’re allowed to bring these things — they may have certain policies in place.

Then I just think the important thing is to wash your hands before you touch these things. If you put them down somewhere in a bag, clean the surface that the bag was touching and then make sure that the person in the home who is packing these things, that they wash their hands before and after touching them.

Q: How have the testing guidelines changed? Is it now only for people showing symptoms?
A: That’s right. So people who don’t have symptoms right now are not being asked to get tested. A majority of the people who don’t have symptoms that are being recommended for testing are if you’ve had close contact with someone who had COVID.

If you have no symptoms and you just want to get tested, that is not part of the testing guidelines right now but there is a bit of latitude. So you could talk to your provider or the assessment center. If you have a specific situation, if you need to get tested because it is related to your work or because you want to visit someone in a long-term care home, for example, it may be possible. But we’re moving away from anyone who just feels like getting tested to get tested.

Q: Do workers have the right to know who tested positive within their workplace?
A: No, workers do not have the right to that. They have a right to know what their own risks are, but because of privacy legislation, if someone has COVID, they are allowed to keep that personal health information secure. They’re not required to share with everyone that they have COVID.

Public Health knows who the person is who has COVID and we make sure that we have a thorough assessment and tracing. If we can’t do that, if there are gaps, then we will be more conservative. But the actual ability to know this person had COVID, that’s not considered a routine part of our investigation. And it’s certainly not something that anyone is entitled to know.

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