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Statement from Dr. Theresa Tam Chief Public Health Officer of Canada

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OTTAWA, ON, Sept. 28, 2020 /CNW/ – In lieu of an in-person update to the media, Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, issued the following statement today:

“There have been 153,125 cases of COVID-19 in Canada, including 9,268 deaths. 86% of people have now recovered. Laboratories across Canada continue to test at a high rate, with an average of almost 70,000 people tested daily last week and 1.4% of these testing positive.  As of Friday September 25th, an average of 1,175 cases were being reported daily across Canada over a seven-day period. As some provinces and territories do not report new cases over the weekend, the next update for the average daily case count will be provided tomorrow, once these numbers have been compiled.

As I have discussed previously, the ongoing increase in Canada’s daily case count is an indicator of accelerated epidemic growth in some regions of this country. While Canadians and public health authorities alike are rapidly responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, we need to be mindful that we are doing so in the midst of an “infodemic.” That is an overabundance of information about COVID-19, including rumours and misinformation, sometimes deliberately spread.

During any public health crisis, access to reliable, accurate and timely information is essential to protect our health. This is being recognized today by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) on the International Day for Universal Access to Information (IDUAI).

Public health officials across Canada have been working tirelessly to provide Canadians with the information they need to protect themselves and their families from COVID-19.

When the pandemic began, the world knew very little about the virus that causes COVID-19. Since then, the science and research on the virus has been evolving in real-time. As our knowledge about COVID-19 has grown, public health guidance and practices have evolved in turn. I recognize that Canadians have made a tremendous effort to learn about COVID-19, including learning epidemiology terms and infection control practices, all while looking after your own families and mental health during the pandemic.

On top of this, in today’s digital age, we are all exposed to more information than ever before and often struggle to sort the good from the bad. Social media platforms allow us to stay connected to the ones we love while at a distance, and they also allow us to share information with each other. Our trust in the person sharing the information, may lead us to assume that the information they share is true and accurate and we may be less likely to double-check if the source is credible and trustworthy.

I urge everyone to consider the source of the information they share with others.  And when we come across new information, we need to think critically about it, check the source and not share it further, if there any doubt about its credibility.

For additional trustworthy information about COVID-19, the Government of Canada website, Canada.ca/coronavirus, is a good place to start. You can also find reliable information on your provincial and local health agency website, as well as from international agencies like the World Health Organization and the Red Cross. For information to help you and your family boost your digital and media literacy skills, visit Mediasmarts.ca where you can find many resources, including information for families and educators.

False or misleading information can spread as fast as a virus. Just as we must be vigilant in keeping up proven, effective public health measures to slow the spread of COVID-19, we must also be vigilant in our efforts to end the “infodemic.” Let’s empower one another to keep learning and stop misinformation in its tracks. To learn more on ways to reduce your risk of infection and spreading the virus, you can also consult this COVID-19 awareness resources guide.”

SOURCE Public Health Agency of Canada

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