Earlier today, Justin Trudeau announced that entry to Canada would be limited to Canadian citizens and permanent residents. He further indicated that U.S. citizens will also be allowed entry into Canada at this time, despite COVID-19 concerns in the U.S.
Dr. Theresa Tam, chief public health officer of Canada, was asked to clarify the reasoning behind the decision to accept U.S. citizens into the country at this afternoon’s COVID-19 press conference, given the significant spread of the virus in the United States, and her response had more to do with social distancing and self-isolation.
“From my perspective, the most important public health actions must be to show up with a domestic response,” Dr. Tam explained. “To detect cases, contact tracing and to do social distancing. Those are the key things that are going to be really, really important right now [to fight COVID-19]. Border measures add layers of protection on top of that fundamental public health action. So border measures are never perfect and you have to weigh the pros and cons of doing them. I do think that putting the measure of asking people to self isolate when they arrive in Canada are a really important aspect of the public health response. Which means anyone who might be infected is asked to self-isolate to prevent the onward transmission and impact on those who are vulnerable in Canada. So that’s the concept.”
Dr. Tam commented further on the concern in British Columbia, being so close in proximity to some areas of the U.S. affected heavily by COVID-19. “B.C. shares a border with some key areas of the U.S. experiencing cases of COVID-19, so it is important to work together to reduce that risk,” Dr. Tam said. “I think that, again, asking people to self-isolate is a key move.”
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