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Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam is seen during a news conference in Ottawa on Wednesday.

Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press

Face-off

Re Theresa Tam Does An About-face On Masks (April 9): Where else would she have us put them?

Jo Meingarten Toronto

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What is wrong with revising guidelines? Over the last few months, the health-care system has been constantly adapting to the changing situation. If we had already known everything about how to protect ourselves from COVID-19, then we would not be in this situation.

If a complete lockdown becomes warranted, then the Chief Public Health Officer of Canada may recommend that too – but that should not be considered an about-face. Let us give more respect to public-health professionals.

Avtar Dhanota Toronto


I agree that “Canada’s top doctor has damaged public trust in those calling the shots.” I find that Theresa Tam’s belated reversal on the efficacy of face masks for asymptomatic individuals is just the latest in a series of misjudgments, which has included minimizing the risks to Canadians of COVID-19 and downplaying the need for travel restrictions in the early stages of the pandemic.

Dr. Tam’s advice not only tended to delay and thwart an effective early response to the virus in Canada, it seems to have also created public doubt and confusion among Canadians. With due respect, I think it is time for the appointment of a new “top doctor.”

Barry Francis Toronto


All public-health authorities have to weigh what they say by considering how it will influence people’s behaviour. It appears to be clear from various sources, including the World Health Organization and the Chief Public Health Officer of Canada herself, that the efficacy of face masks in the general population in preventing the spread of COVID-19 is questionable. I believe Theresa Tam could be criticized for not being definitive, but she did point out studies do not show that masks on asymptomatic people have a reliable impact on spread. But we could also conclude that if people think masks can save them, they could go on to do stupid things.

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Experience shows it’s hard to get people to do what we know works. Social distancing, for example: What if people think a mask will allow them to ignore that guidance? The science is clear on staying at home, but it is unclear at best on masks. Dr. Tam appears to be acting responsibly in an unclear world.

Bob Brews Toronto


I would like to thank columnist Robyn Urback for clarify‎ing the use of face masks. In four simple steps, she made perfect sense. I myself have been wondering what to do – the Chief Public Health Officer of Canada has confused me at almost every turn.

Mary Smith Guelph, Ont.


In this time of crisis, with no clear end in sight, it is disappointing to see more than a few opinions finding fault with our various health and government officials. To what end? Let’s try to focus on what positives we can find.

While we can always do better, for the most part, the faces we see in the news every day seem to be handling this situation exceptionally well. There will be plenty of time for recriminations and performance reviews after the fact.

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Peter Hambly Hanover, Ont.

Racism in a pandemic?

Re Let’s Zoom Xi. He Has Questions To Answer (April 6): It’s clear to me that wildlife markets in China and beyond need to see their standards improved or be shut down to prevent future pandemics. However, the sentiments behind some of these calls have been xenophobic and used to blame the Chinese community. Enough of shaming people for the consumption of wildlife just because it is considered strange elsewhere. We should remember that what we do have in common is a food system that involves consumption of animals and their by-products, dead or alive.

There have been a number of outbreaks related to more normalized consumption of animals such as pigs and chickens. The swine flu, for example, is said to have originated from a factory farm in Mexico. And let’s not forget about the regular recalls of spinach and lettuce due to E. coli, which is a bacteria often found in cows, goats and sheep.

As we work to prevent a future pandemic, let’s be careful not to use the opportunity to fuel xenophobic rhetoric, and instead reflect on our own relationship with animals.

Ifhtia Haque Toronto


Re In A Pandemic, Americans Turn To Guns – The Worst Possible Outcome (April 7): Contributor Ian Buruma tells us a violent reaction of American culture to COVID-19 drove “essential” gun sales higher than ever. Yes, it is crazy. But Canadian culture seems to share a similar war mentality, such as contributor Andrew Potter’s urging to “put our lives on the line.” (We Must Fight COVID-19 Like We’re At War – April 7)

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The Globe’s own columnists have also used a lot of war metaphors since the border shutdown. We should think carefully about the consequences of inciting people with such language. If this is a war, it is an internal war – a civil war – because the virus is among and within us. As a result, racism and violence against Asian people seems to have increased around the world.

Furthermore, war metaphors can also support violence against women, children and other vulnerable citizens, as history has shown on battlefields. We should stop using war metaphors for public-health issues. We aren’t fighting each other but taking care of each other.

Midori Ogasawara Kingston

Gaming twitch

Re Get With The Program, Trump: Sports As We Know Them Are Over (Sports, April 6): Maybe this is the big moment for e-sports. With all the available airtime on sports channels (and the craving of fans), could we see the NBA, NHL, NFL and MLB eclipsed by Call of Duty and World of Warcraft?

Patrick Winter Toronto

Hello, goodbye

Re John Prine: Humanist, Humourist And All-time Great Storyteller (April 9): Having my musical appreciation mature in the 1970s, I was lucky enough to be among friends who also sang along to, laughed and shed a tear to John Prine’s collection of songs. We lost him to COVID-19 at a time when too many seniors his age are losing their lives or at great risk.

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Mr. Prine had a knack for a mid-song key change that could stir an emotional response, as he did masterfully in one of his favourites, Hello In There, which touches on the isolation felt by many senior citizens. With two parents in assisted living, I am reminded often, but more today, of their time "waiting for someone to say, ‘Hello in there, hello.’ ”

Cam McClean Oakville, Ont.


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