Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry listens during a news conference about the provincial response to the coronavirus, in Vancouver, on Friday, March 6, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry listens during a news conference about the provincial response to the coronavirus, in Vancouver, on Friday, March 6, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

COLUMN: Listen to those who know about COVID-19

Accurate information is essential when understanding the pandemic

When Dr. Bonnie Henry speaks about the COVID-19 pandemic, British Columbians tend to pay attention.

Henry, the provincial health officer for B.C., has a background in epidemiology, and is a specialist in public health and preventative medicine.

She has a list of credentials to her name, including medical training in prestigious Canadian and American universities.

Her career has taken her to places around the world, including working with a polio eradication program in Pakistan and efforts to control the Ebola virus in Uganda.

In Canada, she has worked with the Canada Pandemic Influenza Plan, prepared in 2017.

She has dedicated her professional life to medicine, and when she speaks about the COVID-19 pandemic in British Columbia, she has the medical knowledge to back up her statements.

READ ALSO: B.C. reports 47 new cases, no deaths due to COVID-19

READ ALSO: ‘We all have anxieties’: B.C.’s top doctor addresses return-to-school fears amid COVID-19

In short, she understands this pandemic better than most.

The same is true of Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer.

Tam has a lot of knowledge about medicine and pandemics.

In 2006, she was a co-chair of a federal report on pandemic preparedness. And, when she has spoken about the COVID-19 pandemic at the national level, she has the medical knowledge to back up every word.

In the United States, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has been speaking about COVID-19 since the pandemic reached that country.

He has more than 50 years of medical experience, and he has held his present position since 1984.

There are similar stories from around the world.

Public health officials are selected for their role because of the knowledge they possess – knowledge acquired as a result of many years of training and research.

The best information on the pandemic should come from those who know about medicine and pandemics.

This includes these public health offices, the B.C. Centre for Disease Control, the World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

COVID-19 is something relatively new. The disease was first identified in December and has been traced back to a case in mid-November. And while medical researchers have discovered much about COVID-19 in the months following, there is still much to be learned about this disease, how it spreads and how it can best be treated.

Efforts to develop a vaccine or a cure have been ongoing for several months, but at present, a confirmed cure or vaccine does not yet exist.

Each week there is new information about COVID-19, but there is also plenty of misinformation.

Some of this includes statements about how the disease spreads or how it may be controlled, statements about the severity of the disease, claims about the effectiveness of non-medical masks and more. Sometimes, these statements are written in what may sound like medical terminology.

Trying to sort the truth from the misinformation is no easy task.

Facebook Karen or Online Research Chad may have the best of intentions as they share pithy quips or links to online articles about COVID-19, but unless those statements originate from a person or organization with extensive knowledge about the pandemic, the information might not be accurate.

At worst, well-intentioned efforts could end up spreading dangerous or deadly advice.

Reposting an online status or spending several hours doing an online search is not the same as earning a medical degree.

The advice from Henry, Tam, Fauci and other health officers, or the advice from the provincial and federal governments, the World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control will not be as flashy or as sensational as some of the claims circulating online.

But it is the most accurate information we have at this time.

Listen to those who know.

John Arendt is the editor of the Summerland Review.

To report a typo, email:
news@summerlandreview.com
.



news@summerlandreview.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

ColumnistCoronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Victory Church homeless shelter had the highest calls for police service above everywhere else, at 290 calls for service, in the first three months of the year. (Jesse Day Western News)
UPDATE: Human error doubled data about calls for police to Penticton’s homeless shelters

Police have now partnered with Interior Health to have a nurse come with them to calls

A woman wears a face mask and shield to curb the spread of COVID-19 while walking in North Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday, January 6, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
57 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health region

Thirty people in the region are in hospital, 16 of whom are in intensive care

Fun in Penticton is being promoted through banners going up along Main and Westminster. (Suzanne White Western News)
Banners go up in downtown celebrating fun in Penticton

From beach or biking time to dining or shopping, the banners promote things to do

(File photo)
Penticton, Summerland RCMP having success with online crime reporting

They have also added new crimes that can be reported online

Parkway Elementary Gr. 4 and 5 students have created an art project displayed for sale at businesses around Penticton with money raised going back to the school, local charity and internationally. (Submitted)
Penticton elementary students artwork displayed around Penticton

Parkway Elementary Grade 4/5s have art at Lakeside Resort, Blendz and Dragon’s Den

Jose Marchand prepares Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination doses at a mobile clinic for members of First Nations and their partners, in Montreal, Friday, April 30, 2021. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization is coming under fire after contradicting the advice Canadians have been receiving for weeks to take the first vaccine against COVID-19 that they’re offered. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Trudeau says he is glad he got AstraZeneca, vaccines are only way out of pandemic

‘The most important thing is to get vaccinated with the first vaccine offered to you’

Solar panels on a parking garage at the University of B.C. will be used to separate water into oxygen and hydrogen, the latter captured to supply a vehicle filling station. (UBC video)
UBC parkade project to use solar energy for hydrogen vehicles

Demonstration project gets $5.6M in low-carbon fuel credits

FILE – A student arrives at school as teachers dressed in red participate in a solidarity march to raise awareness about cases of COVID-19 at Ecole Woodward Hill Elementary School, in Surrey, B.C., on Tuesday, February 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. ‘should be able to’ offer 1st dose of COVID vaccine to kids 12+ by end of June: Henry

Health Canada authorized the vaccine for younger teens this morning

A woman in the Harrison Mills area was attacked by a cougar on Tuesday, May 4. B.C. Conservation Officers killed two male cougars in the area; the attack was determined to be predatory in nature. (File photo)
2 cougars killed following attack on woman in Agassiz area

Attack victim remains in hospital in stable condition

A woman wears a face mask and shield to curb the spread of COVID-19 while walking in North Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday, January 6, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. CDC updates info, acknowledging small respiratory droplets can spread COVID-19

Large droplets, not aerosols had been fixture of public health messaging for many months

George Ryga, considered by many as Canada’s most important English playwright lived in Summerland from 1963 until his death in 1987. He is the inspiration for the annual Ryga Arts Festival. (Contributed)
Summerland archive established for George Ryga

Renowned author wrote novels, poetry, stage plays and screen plays from Summerland home

Grizzly bear. (File)
Malakwa man bitten by grizzly bear on dog walk

The man and dogs were not seriously injured

Municipal crews are clearing sand from streets in Summerland. The street sweeping is expected to be completed by early June. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
Summerland crews clearing sand from streets

Work expected to be completed by early June

Most Read