COVID-19: OMA recommends increased public health measures

By The IJ Staff | May 15 2020 10:00AM

Photo: Freepik

The Ontario Medical Association (OMA) released a paper May 15 that sets out a series of increased public health measures that the association urges be put in place for the province to re-open safely.

"There is going to be a new normal in the health-care system as well as the world at large," says OMA CEO Allan O'Dette. "The OMA is committed to working collaboratively with the government and other partners to ensure that the health system's recovery in the post-pandemic environment is managed in the most efficient and effective manner for patients and providers alike."

OMA is recommending the following measures until a vaccine or treatment for COVID-19 are developed:

- Continuing personal protective measures, including wearing masks, physical distancing, influenza vaccination and hygiene practices. OMA adds that those who can should continue to work from home. For those who cannot, employers should stagger shifts, be flexible and provide separate workspaces for staff.

- Continuing necessary testing with investment in and uptake of innovative testing solutions, as well as serology testing (antibody testing) and immunity research.

- Creating capacity to trace all case contacts, and enforce and support contact isolation.

- Targeted approaches to protecting children and vulnerable populations. Decision-makers need to take a nuanced approach to decisions about reopening schools and childcare facilities considering the unique needs of children, particularly their social and emotional development during prolonged isolation. Vulnerable populations, such as seniors and those with existing medical conditions, will need to move through transition phases slower than the general public,” says OMA.

- Balancing public trust in and public compliance with the other public health pillars to safely reopen Ontario. “Education and communication to the public will be key to ensure continued compliance with public health measures and that the public has confidence and trust that it is safe to return,” says OMA.

Through its shutdown, Ontario has managed to successfully flatten the peak of its pandemic curve over the past several weeks, but without a vaccine or treatment, the risk of a surge remains ever-present, warns the association.

"What we have learnt, from the experiences of other countries, and historically from other viruses and pandemics is that we should not rush," says OMA President Dr. Samantha Hill. "Reopening the province needs to occur in a phased and gradual manner to safely balance the need to restart the economy and ramp up deferred services, while continuing to protect everyone from the risk of exposure and preserving system capacity to respond to another outbreak or surge in cases."

To learn more, consult the paper, Reopening Ontario to a 'New Normal': Five Public Health Pillars for a Safe Return.

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