July 5, 2022

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The key lesson from SARS is that Canada did not care when COVID-19 was hit

The key lesson from SARS is that Canada did not care when COVID-19 was hit

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In the years following the 2003 SARS outbreak that infected 400 Canadians and killed 44, an independent investigation was launched in Ontario to investigate the response to the outbreak and learn from the mistakes made.

Some experts involved in the investigation said they learned an important lesson at the time – Canada failed to apply when the coronavirus pandemic struck.

2007 in power SARS Commission Justice Archie Campbell, a High Court Judge “Unsatisfying curiosity, ”Colleagues said to make sure the lessons from the outbreak are never forgotten.

When he met with Campbell’s advisers in the library of a federal building in downtown Toronto, he discovered how the previous Royal Commission reports decades ago were collecting dust on the shelves.

“We look around the room and he points out a Royal Commission and he says, ‘As far as I know, until that Royal Commission’s recommendations come in. They sit on the library shelf,’ ‘the commission’s chief attorney, Doug Hunt, recalled. , ‘I do not want ours to end that way. ”

See | Health care workers at risk because lessons from SARS on COVID epidemic do not apply:

Lessons learned from SARS in 2003, including the availability of personal protective equipment and access to sick leave, did not apply to the COVID-19 pandemic and endangered the lives of health care workers, a report commissioned by nurses’ unions in Canada said. 2:01

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The driving force behind the investigation is to conduct a comprehensive investigation into the spread and make clear recommendations that governments may want to follow in the face of future epidemics.

“We had a lot of hope at the time,” Hunt said. “But in the end, from a government perspective, it ended up on the library’s shelves.”

Canada ‘not wrong’ on beginning of pandemic

Canada was hit hardest by the coronavirus epidemic, which caused more than 190,000 COVID-19 cases and 9,700 deaths in the first eight months.

But the country would have been much better off if the experts who worked on the SARS Commission‌ had applied the lessons from SARS well in the beginning.

“More than 90 percent of all SARS cases and deaths are in Canada, China, Hong Kong and Taiwan, so they should compare with us,” said Mario Posamai, Campbell’s senior adviser at the SARS Commission. . “Canada now has more COVID-19 deaths and cases than China, Taiwan and Hong Kong.”

The most important lesson from the SARS Commission is the “concept”The principle of precaution, “A strategy that future governments will use to prevent the situation from escalating.

Mario Posamai, a senior adviser to the 2007 SARS Commission, said the federal government had not successfully followed the precautionary principle at the outset of the coronavirus epidemic. (Craig Chivers / CBC)

The basic premise of that principle is that there is always a safe approach to spreading and not having to wait for all the scientific evidence before acting.

“What Justice Campbell says is that when there is scientific uncertainty, be careful and protect health care workers and protect Canadians,” Posamai said. “And we didn’t do that.”

Posamai said the initial contraction Closing borders For international travelers, the Resistance to recommend the use of masks For the general public and its impact a Depleted national storage of PPE There are devastating consequences for Canada’s ability to control COVID-19.

“The precautionary approach would have made a difference if that had been the case,” Posamai said. “Not only is it too late for us to move in that direction, but there is a real flaw of transparency.”

Time and time again the Public Health Agency of Canada has assured Canadians that it will use the best guidance available, but refuses to cite the specific scientific evidence behind its decisions. Asymptomatic transmission And opportunity Airborne spread of the virus – Something that Posamai said caused confusion.

“What are studies? What is science?” He asked. “It’s completely opaque.”

Hunt said the lack of access to personal protective equipment for frontline health care workers at the beginning of the epidemic was “unforgivable.” Destroy millions of expired N95 masks Last year was “mind boggling.”

The federal government was widely criticized at the outset of the epidemic for failing to manage and dispatch adequate supplies of personal protective equipment in the National Emergency Strategic Stockpile (NESS). 16 tons of PPE to China, Leads a Scramble to collect supplies. Canada has changed completely since then Self-sufficiency In producing its own PPE, and China The donation was refunded.

Dr. Theresa Tom, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, has finally agreed that this week is science. “Developing“Whether COVID-19 can still be transmitted through aerosols – or microscopic airborne particles – PHAC’s guidelines Still no mention of it.

“In key areas, we did not take precautionary measures,” Posamai said. “The arguments made by the federal government at the time did not make sense then and now make no less sense than that.”

Canada ‘must do very well’ in rescuing the elderly in the 2nd wave

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau responded last week to questions about whether Canada’s lessons from SARS were being followed. Report Posamai alleges that Canadian health care workers were exposed to an unwanted risk of COVID-19.

“If we look back at those first months, we could have done very differently, we should have done differently and there is a lot we can learn,” Trudeau told a news conference on October 5.

“At the same time, many of the things we can do successfully in the first months of the COVID-19 epidemic depend on the lessons learned from SARS.”

See | Dr. Theresa Tom echoes Canada’s initial COVID-19 response:

Part 3 of Rosemary Barton’s exclusive interview with Dr. Theresa Tom, Chief Public Health Officer, about Canada’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 9:44

Tom said the government had “learned a lot” from the SARS outbreak, which created both PHAC and her position due to later identified deficiencies.

“Every outbreak or pandemic is different,” she says. “It’s bigger than SARS, so I know we’ll learn even more from this than we did last time.

“We need to expand the pandemic readiness to move forward.”

There is also the expansion of long-term care homes beyond hospitals, Tom said, adding that the government should “do very well” in protecting elderly residents and the health care workers who work in them.

To date, more than 21,000 Canadian health care workers have been infected with COVID-19, one in five cases, and 70 percent of deaths from COVID-19 Occurred in those over 80 years of age – About Twice the rates in other developed countries.

“The precautionary principle is, this time, disgraceful,” said Doris Grinspun, head of Ontario’s Registered Nurses Association, who called for an inquiry into the 2003 outbreak of SARS.

“We know we need to be well prepared.”

While communication and cooperation between governments at various levels from SARS is improving, she believes that Canada needs to learn from the mistakes of the first wave in order to have a more successful spread of COVID-19 in second place.

“This time, we’re better prepared than the first wave,” she said, adding that following the precautionary principle for those living in long-term care in the second wave means hiring more staff.

“We say ‘hire, hire, hire’ because Twindemic – the fall with the flu and the Kovid – gets us in trouble.”

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