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Coronavirus public health Q&A with Dr. Vinita Dubey (Oct. 7)

Last Updated Oct 12, 2020 at 3:09 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, is answered your COVID-19 related questions in a LIVE video interview on Wednesday, Oct. 7, 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: When you’re in 14 days of quarantine after travelling and you get a COVID test that comes out negative, do you need to continue on with your full 14 day quarantine?
A: You need to continue those full 14 days.

Part of that is we actually don’t recommend that you routinely get tested when you returned from travel. It’s only if you have symptoms. That would be the case now in Ontario, because of the change in the testing recommendations.

If you get tested on day two of coming back, you still have 12 more days. And just because you had a negative test on day two, doesn’t mean that in the next 12 days, you might not be incubating and could develop a symptoms and become contagious.

So that’s why, even if you have a negative test, you’re required to complete the full those full 14 days.

Q: If we are not to socialize with anyone outside our families, why are children allowed to be with 27 other non-family members in school?
A: In a classroom, the children are not interacting with one another the way you interact with the people who you live with. They’re wearing masks, they’re keeping a physical distance as much as possible, they’re being screened every day. They come to school, they’re making sure that they have hand-washing moments throughout the day.

So that’s why the classroom setting is different from a household setting. And even for those who go to work and may be interacting with other people at work, again, you’re doing it with that physical distance as well. So that’s that distinction there.

Q: Is it really true that outdoor gatherings pose little risk, even without proper distancing and masking, or should people be following all of these protocols even with outdoor gatherings?
A: Outdoor gatherings while they are lower risk, they’re not no risk. When you’re having an outdoor wedding or religious ceremony or whatever it is, the risks are still there.

If you have 25 people and no one’s maintaining physical distance, no one’s wearing a mask and one person is contagious, many people are going to get sick. The reason why outdoors is better is because there’s better ventilation, probably our surfaces are not getting contaminated and we have more room to keep a distance. I think what we need to recognize is if we’re going to be outdoors, we need to keep that distance.

I actually think there are some circumstances now when we’re outdoors that we should consider wearing a mask, especially when you can’t consistently maintain that physical distance. It’s not as hot anymore and I think we can tolerate a mask better. Given the number of cases that we have going on, I think that that’s also a good idea.

Q: How is it lower risk to go to a restaurant, but not meet with your family outside your household?
A: I’m not necessarily saying that it’s lower risk to go to a restaurant. This is why Toronto Public Health is trying to recommend that the province stops something like indoor dining, because we have seen cases of COVID spread there. So you’re seeing this lag in the legal side catching up with the recommendations, but the recommendation is there. We’re asking people to avoid non-essential trips and visits and if you choose to go to a restaurant to choose the outdoor dining option preferably.

And it’s very, very confusing. I completely understand that. I think regardless of what we’re doing, we have to think about the public health principles. That’s easy for me to say, because that’s my profession, but really if you can’t keep a physical distance, if there are people that you don’t live with, if someone might be sick there, if you’re not wearing masks, those are all higher risk scenarios and we want to avoid that right now.

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