Trudeau debunks COVID-19 ‘internment camp’ misinformation and rumours; Ontario’s daily case count jumps up over 800

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PM addresses disinformation, misinformation around COVID-19

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau commented on the amount of misinformation circulating about COVID-19 and the government’s response, including claims that there will be coronavirus internment camps in Canada.

The rumour began during Question Period on October 7, when Ontario MPP Randy Hillier asked if quarantine sites meant for incoming travellers who have no other place to quarantine were to be turned into “internment camps.”

Buzz spread of the false allegation, which was debunked by Trudeau today.

“We’ve seen over the past number of years a rise in concerted efforts around misinformation and disinformation on a broad range of subjects, designed to undermine people’s confidence in their institutions, in their democracies,” Trudeau said. “Some are foreign actors trying to disrupt successful democracies, others are people with extremist agendas.”

“As a government, we need to continue to stand strong, particularly during a public health crisis where the best thing Canadians can do is listen to experts, listen to doctors.”

The prime minister added that there is a “tremendous amount of noise and harmful misinformation” on the internet but Canadians need to continue to look to trusted sources of information, like Canada’s chief public health officer and regional health authorities.

Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, said misinformation and disinformation does not help public health officials and the collective system has tried, through various means, to provide credible information to the public.

“I think there’s a part for almost everyone,” Dr. Tam said. “There’s a part for journalists who are in this room to help reveal the sort of tactics and measures that are at play, including bots and other aspects of what’s actually happening in the social media space.”

She added that there is also a role for social media platforms, who have put some measures in place like directing people to credible sites if people are using certain searches and taking down some “outrageous” disinformation.

Dr. Tam stressed that when individuals are looking at information, they need to ask themselves where it came from and if it’s credible.

“Be media smart as well as science smart,” Canada’s chief public health officer said.

In advance of a viable COVID-19 vaccine, Dr. Tam indicated Canada needs to “immunize the population against [misinformation and disinformation] before the vaccine arrives.” This includes providing information on the safety measures and rigorous processes of regulatory authorities.

She added that getting a better understanding of why people spread misinformation and disinformation is also important.

CASES AND OUTBREAKS

Ontario sees spike in daily COVID-19 cases

Ontario reported 821 new confirmed COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, the highest daily total since surpassing 900 cases in early October. The province also identified three more COVID-19 deaths.

Of the new cases, 327 are Toronto, 136 in Peel, 64 in York Region and 79 in Ottawa.

The province conducted 24,049 tests in the last 24 hour period, with 24,129 tests still under investigation.

At a press conference on Tuesday, Ontario Premier Doug Ford said the low testing rate is due to fewer people getting tested for COVID-19.

There are currently 274 people in Ontario hospitals with COVID-19, 72 in ICU, and 628 more cases are resolved.

A total of 87 long-term care homes in the province are reporting outbreaks, one new outbreak reported on Tuesday, with 197 confirmed cases in residents and 249 in staff.

Ontario reported 121 new school-related COVID-19 cases, 75 are students, 22 are staff and 24 have not been identified.

When asked about the province’s decision to reopen dance studios in COVID-19 hotspots Ford said these classes differ from boutique fitness studios because the participants are like “cohorts” who come in for their class then leave, “not much different” than the school environment.

The premier went on to say the province is “looking at” rules around these small fitnesses studio but the comparison is apples and oranges.

Quebec sees a decrease in daily case counts, increase in hospitalizations

Quebec officials reported 877 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, a significant decrease from the 1,038 cases reported a day earlier.

The province also confirmed five additional COVID-19 deaths in the past 24 hours with 33 more people in Quebec hospitals since yesterday’s report, bringing the total to 565, and eight more people in ICU or 100 people in total.

There are 272 cases in the Quebec City region, 193 in Montreal and 174 in Montérégie.

At a press conference on Tuesday, premier François Legault indicated cases have been “stabilizing” in the past three weeks and stressed people need to make a point to take care of their mental health, as well as physical health, during the pandemic. Quebec has hired 300 workers for its 811 mental health services, and plans to hire 300 more.

New COVID-19 case in P.E.I. initially tested negative after travel

Prince Edward Island reported one new case of COVID-19 on Tuesday, a woman in her 20s who is a rotational worker. She traveled from Edmonton to Charlottetown on Air Canada, through Toronto on Oct. 13, on flights 162 and 7460.

When she was first tested, between day zero to two of arrival, she tested negative for COVID-19 but when tested a second time, between day four and seven, she was positive.

Dr. Heather Morrison, the chief public health officer of P.E.I., said at a press conference Tuesday that this incident demonstrates that “a negative test reflects a single point in time only.”

“Testing does not replace self-isolation,” Dr. Morrison said. “The testing and isolation requirement for workers…are in place and should be followed.”

The province’s chief public health officer also spoke about differentiating between influenza and COVID-19. Dr. Morrison indicated symptoms like fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, sore throat, muscle ache and headaches are common between both.

COVID-19 can lead to loss of taste or smell, which is specific to this particular virus.

Dr. Morrison said both viruses are spread when coming into close contact with an infected person, transmitted through droplets when they talk, sneeze or cough. She added that COVID-19 is more contagious than influenza and has led to more super spreader events.

Check out our COVID-19 in Canada topic page for latest news, tips, health updates, cases and more.

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