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Coronavirus public health Q&A with Dr. Vinita Dubey - June 17

Last Updated Jun 21, 2020 at 3:07 pm EDT

We know you have questions about the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and we’re working to get you the answers, straight from the most trusted sources.

Toronto’s Associate Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Vinita Dubey, answered your COVID-19 related public health questions in a LIVE video interview on Wednesday, June 10, on our Facebook page as well as here on our website.

Here are a few questions Dr. Dubey addressed:

(Questions were moderated and have been edited for grammar, punctuation and clarity)

Q: Toronto is still being kept in Stage 1 currently. Is there a particular milestone we’re looking to hit before we can enter Stage 2 of reopening? Is it a number of cases or transmission rate — what are we looking for before Toronto can be given the green light?
A: There are a number of “indicators” that we’re looking at to see when Toronto will be ready.

A lot of it has to do with the activity of the virus. We still have a number of cases — our rate, meaning the number of cases we have per capita, is still higher than other parts of the province. We want to be able to see that those are really coming down — that our seven day average shows that they’re declining — to feel more comfortable in opening.

That being said, it’s also a decision of the provincial government as well. We are certainly hopeful that we are moving in the right direction and that Toronto will reach that stage shortly.

Q: How much does heat or temperature play a role in killing the virus? For instance, if you wash your hands with very hot water, would you still need to do it for 20 seconds?
A: Yes, you still need to do it for 20 seconds. It’s actually beneficial to wash your hands with warmer water, because then you’re more likely to keep your hands in the water for longer. That’s why we actually discouraged washing your hands with cold water, because then it’s too cold for your hands — you’re in and out washing the hands.

So the idea of the length of time for washing your hands is that you can get that lather when you scrub the soap and you actually really rub whatever’s on your hands off. That’s why we’re recommending that 20 seconds — to lather. That’s the important part.

Q: Do fans circulating air in an enclosed room spread the virus?
A: It’s very unlikely. It is a theoretical risk.

If the virus is alive or active on surfaces, and then the fan is blowing it in the air that you could get it. In fact, it’s one of the reasons why we put out guidelines for hairdressers about blow drying hair. We said, because of this theoretical risk, you have to be wearing a mask as the hairdresser, the person who’s getting the haircut has to wear a mask and anyone else who’s in the environment has to wear it because it is it’s theoretically possible.

That being said, if the fan is blowing away from people, it’s blowing into the ceiling or to the wall, the risks really are very, very low. And if it’s a hot day and you don’t have air conditioning and you’re relying on the fan to cool you down, by all means, please do turn the fan on.

Q: Is going to church or other religious gatherings with singing actually safe?
A: In fact, singing is actually a very high risk activity — I’m actually equally surprised. It can actually spread the virus more easily than doing a lot of other different activities.

So we’ve released guidelines for places of worship and in them, we’re very clear that there should be no singing, no chanting, no loud speaking. If there is to be singing it should be one soloist on stage, four meters back with a screen in front of them.

Singing is very high risk and so we are not recommending singing in these places of worship. That’s why we are still saying, while you are allowed to open places of worship, if you can have virtual or online services, that’s still a really, really good option.

Watch the full interview with web writer Dilshad Burman in conversation with Dr. Vinita Dubey in the video above.


Scroll through the questions submitted to this session below.

Note: questions were moderated before appearing in the chat window

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