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Debunking COVID-19 myths


Vaudreuil-Soulanges Member of Parliament Peter Schiefke is reminding people to consider their source of information when it comes to the glut of rumours and fake news that is propagating the internet in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic.

By Peter Schiefke

Member of Parliament for Vaudreuil-Soulanges

On Thursday, November 19, I made an important addition to my virtual Town Hall series. Since the onset of the pandemic my online discussions have been geared towards sharing essential information regarding the Government of Canada's COVID-19 support programs for families, workers, small business owners, and the safety measures that Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada's Chief Public Health Officer, is asking Canadians to take to limit the spread. On Thursday, I decided to devote the bulk of my time to address and debunk the most widespread COVID-19 conspiracy theories.

Typically speaking, I would not give credence to the false information and ‘pseudoscience’ circulating online. However, in these unprecedented times, clarifying and differentiating between incorrect information and peer-reviewed science and fact is a question of our collective health and security. The decisions we make on protecting our physical, mental and financial well-being should be based on verifiable, science-based information. As your Member of Parliament, I will continue to provide you with the most reliable information possible while also taking the time to debunk the false information that is more prevalent than ever.

COVID conspiracy theory #1: The Government of Canada is building isolation camps to confine us all

In a video shared online an independent provincial MPP in Ontario surmises how the government would forcibly detain Canadians. He was reacting to funding allocated for the ‘New Voluntary Self-Isolation Centre’ in Toronto, a venue being funded for the homeless diagnosed with COVID-19 but with no access to a safe environment in which to self-isolate. This funding also expands self-isolation capabilities for returning international travelers who do not have access to a suitable place to stay. Unfortunately, misinformation like this is intended to deceive Canadians and cause fear and confusion. Canadians will not be forced into COVID-19 internment or containment camps.



COVID conspiracy theory #2- Masks are ineffective at helping stop the spread of COVID-19

At the outset of the pandemic, scientists knew very little about the virus. Over time, we’ve since learned that people can become infected and spread COVID-19 without ever developing symptoms. We know people can contract the virus multiple times. Research has also shown that when combined with repeated hand washing and a physical distancing of at least 2m, masks help limit the virus' transmission.

Additionally, for most people, wearing a mask is neither dangerous nor detrimental to personal health. Healthcare professionals wear masks regularly and sometimes for very long periods without detrimental health effects.

Following these simple health protocols is an easy way to help stop the spread of COVID-19. You can find detailed specifications on how to properly use a mask and what types of materials should be used for masks here: tinyurl.com/ycc5mx58

COVID conspiracy theory #3: COVID-19 is no worse than the annual flu

Public Health Canada reports approximately 3,500 people die from influenza every year, and an additional 12,200 are hospitalized. Comparatively, in just the last nine months, COVID-19 has been responsible for nearly 11,000 deaths in Canada, nearly three times the average annual number of influenza deaths. Additionally, approximately 19,000 people were hospitalized for COVID, of which 3,724 people were admitted to the ICU and 841 people required mechanical ventilation. These are real people and real families.

Additionally, 5% to 10% of those who have recovered from COVID-19, mostly aged between 20 and 50 years, are experiencing after-effects of the virus. They are reporting experiencing moderate to severe symptoms such as tachycardia, muscle and joint pain, exhaustion, and migraines more than 60 days after the onset of the illness. COVID-19 has also been known to cause neurological damage ranging from simple cognitive difficulties, fatigue, and loss of taste or smell to headaches, stroke and epilepsy. So, to be blunt, no, coronavirus is not ‘just the flu.’