Author: Emily

Toronto’s response to the flu is still “a lot of unknowns”

Toronto’s response to the flu is still “a lot of unknowns”

Dr. Eileen de Villa, Toronto’s public health chief, taking leave of absence for medical treatment. “So it’s a bit like the flu, where there’s a lot of new viruses out there that you may not be familiar with. … But there’s always a little bit of fear, and I think I’ve always felt that way.”

Toronto’s public health experts are also grappling with other issues. A week after the new virus emerged, the city has more than 40 confirmed cases, according to city officials. There are at least three new families who have not spoken with health officials yet.

“It’s really a challenge in terms of making sure they get screened and get a sense of whether they have come down with the flu, but at the same time, the fact that we’re not sure how long it’s going to last, there’s some concern about the long term effects of this,” said Dr. Margaret Chan, senior author of the review and head of Canada’s public health authority. “People are anxious and concerned because of the uncertainties.”

She said the city has done everything it can to protect people in high risk groups, including advising Toronto residents to be home when they are sick and advising vulnerable travellers from other countries. But while there have been “a lot of measures” taken so far to curb the virus, there still are “a lot of unknowns.”

“There are so many things we don’t know about this yet, and we’re seeing the world go by,” said Dr. Diane Francis, chair of the medical advisory committee overseeing Toronto’s response to the outbreak. “While we know the basics, we do not know how long this is going to last.”

As for the virus itself, she said: “The number of cases and deaths remain too small to make very meaningful judgments about public health interventions and mitigation.”

Dr. Robert Dziekanski, associate medical officer of health for Peel Region, said the province is preparing public health advisory teams

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