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View Patty Hajdu Profile
Lib. (ON)
I'll start, then I'll turn to Dr. Tam.
I'll first of all say that we've been using science and evidence to make the decisions around borders. I'll point you to Italy, who had some of the strongest border measures in the G7, who closed their borders in fact to China, and who then, all of a sudden, had an incredible outbreak. That's because.... Of course, the science will settle this as well, but there is some speculation that it's because people came in from a whole bunch of other routes that were not as direct.
Instead, we chose to use World Health Organization recommendations that said it is much better to have targeted measures at the border. That helps you identify the people who are coming from severely affected areas, which can help ensure that you know who is coming in, that they have the information about what to do and that we can monitor them as they self-isolate.
The first location that was added to the screening kiosk was Hubei. When people came from an affected region, they were met by CBSA and public health officials. CBSA would pull them aside and ask them some questions about their health. Public health would work with them, if in fact they were symptomatic, and would transfer them to the local health facility. If they were not symptomatic, then they were asked to self-isolate at home with a mandatory requirement to check in with public health within 24 hours. We have evidence that there was a very high compliance rate. We added Iran as a country of concern as well, because Iran, obviously, had cases that in fact weren't detected until we had identified a case from Iran.
I would also remind you that a virus does not know borders. Over 100 countries now have coronavirus in their country. No country will be left unaffected by the time this is over. We are certain that the right approach is to use our health services appropriately, with the goal of protecting Canadian wellness and health. We have to take decisions that are about protecting the health and safety of Canadians. We can't take them because it feels right. We can't take them despite the evidence. We have to use science and evidence. That is the primary responsibility, I feel, as the Minister of Health—that I will use the evidence that is provided to me from international organizations, from our leadership team, to make the right decision with the goal of ensuring that Canadians stay healthy.
I'll turn to you, Dr. Tam, if you want to say a little more about the science behind borders.
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