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Evolving science reason for inconsistent messaging on COVID-19: Tam

Last Updated Oct 22, 2020 at 2:39 pm EST

OTTAWA — Canada’s chief public health officer says messages on how to keep safe during the COVID-19 pandemic might seem inconsistent, but that’s because the epidemiology is different across the country and the science on the virus has evolved.

Dr. Theresa Tam says public health officials had to change their advice regarding wearing non-medical masks when epidemiologists came to understand that asymptomatic people can transmit the virus that causes COVID-19.

Speaking to a journalism conference at Carleton University, Tam says scientists don’t have the luxury of debating things behind closed doors and in peer-reviewed journals as every event related to COVID-19 is being reported to the public in real time. 

She says communications can appear inconsistent because the pandemic is different in different parts of the country and authorities apply responses to match.

Tam says misinformation can travel faster than the virus on the internet, making it more challenging for public health officials to communicate.  

As younger Canadians are becoming more affected by COVID-19 during the second wave of the pandemic, Tam says there is a need to adapt the messaging by using gaming and social media more effectively. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 22, 2019.

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This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

The Canadian Press