Covid Confusion - Conversations With Susan Millar

Many find the messaging around Covid confusing. What behaviour is acceptable, and what is not? Why do the rules keep changing? Why are quarantines mandatory for travellers now, and not earlier? Why are the instructions on masks changing? Why are most schools in Canada open? It can all seem so arbitrary.

And some people have more basic questions, such as: “Is the virus really as bad as the authorities are saying? Are there alternative explanations for the rise of Covid? Are we being bamboozled by medical authorities or politicians?

Pandemic historian and City Councillor, Jaimie McEvoy, decided to google 'Covid Confusing Messaging' and turned up 1.5 million results! Unlike the last pandemic, Jaimie opined in his discussion with Susan in the current episode of “Conversations with Susan Millar”, the role of social media is much greater, this time and along with that, the propagation of conspiracy theories. His thoughts are that these theories have appeal, to some large degree, as people are dealing with a stress reaction to living in these times, as has happened in past epidemics.

He also points out that the people who propagate these messages are running businesses – they are making money from what they are doing, so it is in their interest to continually come up with new conspiracies. Some of this farcical messaging is clever. For example a picture of an empty hospital wing with wording such as “no epidemic”, is compelling, but the picture was likely taken years ago in a new hospital not yet occupied.

He says that people can also get bad information in the respected mainstream media too, not so much in the news programming but other programs where so-called experts give their opinion based on no real knowledge. For example, a neurologist is not expert on Covid, (public health experts and infectious disease doctors are,) but s/he may be asked to talk about the virus. Sometimes people are willing to believe information simply because the person is a celebrity or has a 'big' name.

Jaimie goes into some detail about the confusing messaging in Canada. His best advice is to follow local news from well-respected outlets or sources, and to rely on the advice of Canada's chief medical doctor, Dr. Teresa Tam, and on British Columbia's top doctor, Dr. Bonnie Henry. (There is no point following Californian news as it doesn't apply here, for example.) For further details, people should look on the websites of BC Centre for Disease Control site, the Fraser Health Authorities site and Public Health Canada. If you still have questions, you can call the BC Nurses Line at 604-215-4700 (locally) 24/7. He says this service has been considerably beefed up by the current provincial government to handle the increased calls during this pandemic.

by Susan Millar

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