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Coronavirus information
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A girl tries a handstand in a Toronto park near a playground closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic on April 6, 2020.

Colin Perkel/The Canadian Press

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Mask coverage

Re Advice On Masks Is Changing As Coronavirus Knowledge Evolves (April 7): We call upon the Public Health Agency of Canada and provincial public-health bodies to immediately provide mask-usage guidelines and institute educational programs to teach safe mask care in much the same way proper hand-washing is taught.

The use of masks should be accompanied by proper care. Users should assume their mask is infected after wearing and take proper precautions. As well, surgical masks will not be available to the general public until an assured supply is stockpiled for health-care workers. In the meantime, using and reusing cloth masks or even scarves or bandanas is a reasonable option.

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We believe masking is only one part of a successful program to mitigate virus spread, and it must be done properly to be effective.

Val Montessori MD; Jake Onrot, MD; Gil Kimel, MD; Vancouver

China rising

Re Let’s Zoom Xi. He Has Questions To Answer (April 6): I believe contributor Niall Ferguson has it right in calling on all of us to challenge China, where communist leaders seem to be hiding their culpability in the global spread of COVID-19. He also, rightly, reminds us that while we roll our eyes at Donald Trump’s misguided pronouncements and politicization of the crisis, China is also likely using events for its own agenda.

The world will be different once this crisis passes. A world with an ascendant China would not be a better or safer world.

Paul Clarry Aurora, Ont.

Strength in numbers

Re We Can’t Leave The Developing World Behind and The World Must Act Before COVID-19 Shatters Africa (Opinion, April 4): I find columnist Konrad Yakabuski and contributor Robert Rotberg rightly lament the plight of the poorest developing countries, which are dangerously unprepared for the pandemic. Sub-Saharan Africa, with a population of more than one billion, is particularly vulnerable, given the rudimentary state of public-health facilities in most countries. Pleas to increase foreign aid will likely fall on deaf ears, and will continue to do so as donors focus on propping up their own economies.

However, support could also take the form of debt relief. Debt-service payments by sub-Saharan African countries amount to about US$60-billion, which actually exceeds net foreign aid inflows of about US$52-billion. Cancelling debt payments would thus be equivalent to more than doubling foreign aid.

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Roy Culpeper Senior fellow, School of International Development and Global Studies, University of Ottawa

We’re so focused on our own behaviour during the pandemic that we may forget: Without a vaccine, developing countries are at even greater risk than ours, because it’s harder for them to practise physical distancing and shut down workplaces. The further down the income ladder people live, the more important it is that they go to work every day just to feed their families.

The work we’re doing to develop vaccines will save lives in Canada. We should ensure Canada provides financial support so that all countries get equal access to those vaccines.

Randy Rudolph Calgary

Yours to discover?

Re Walking The Line In This Time Of Physical Distancing (April 4): Toronto is blessed with big, beautiful parks, beaches and trails. Sunshine and exercise are vital for our physical and mental health, and strengthening our immune systems. How better to get both than by walking, biking or running in a big park, where physical distancing should be easier?

The blocking off of these spaces seems misguided. Why aren’t our civic leaders encouraging us to take advantage of these wonderful resources by going to one every day to exercise, unless we are sick or in quarantine? Instead of “stay inside or face big fines,” the message should be “enjoy parks for exercise, but observe physical distancing, don’t touch the equipment and wash your hands before and after."

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What a Pyrrhic victory it will be if we survive COVID-19 by turning into depressed, obese couch potatoes.

Beth Moore Toronto

I want to congratulate Toronto Mayor John Tory for instituting fines for people flouting social-distancing recommendations in public parks. I can’t comprehend people who complain about infringement on liberties. Yes, that is the whole point!

If these restrictions make people “leery about letting children out” or “more scared now” to venture into parks, so be it. Do these people find that closing restaurants and bars and cancelling events for public safety also infringe on freedom and enjoyment of life? Isn’t it preferable to have access to public spaces completely restricted for a few weeks or months, rather than live in a state where we are unable to go to any restaurants or events – or even see families and friends – for even longer?

Barbi Lazarus Toronto

Re What Are The Coronavirus Rules In My Province? A Quick Guide To What’s Allowed And Open, Or Closed And Banned (Online, April 7): My colleagues and I are concerned about the health implications of closing Ontario’s provincial parks. We have all been reassuring our patients that although social distancing is important in the current situation, it is also important to get outside, to get out into nature as much as possible to counteract stress.

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We understand the necessity of eliminating park activities that would challenge social distancing, such as car camping, picnics, fully open beaches and so forth. But disallowing solitary walks or running in parks seems counter-productive to the resilience of our communities.

We believe park closings will have a deleterious impact on our community’s ability to get through this crisis. Parks are an incredible resource that could be safely utilized, with appropriate precautions and restrictions, to support the mental health and well-being of everyone.

Steve Blanchard MD, FCFP, on behalf of the physicians of the Prince Edward Family Health Team; Picton, Ont.

Live from Ottawa

Re What Does It Take To Lead In Times Of Crisis? (Online, April 6): Here on the West Coast, most of my family is usually still asleep around 8 a.m. PT when Justin Trudeau gives his daily briefing. The sleep-in routine is a way for us to try to stay healthy, at home and away from hospitals. But during this time of unprecedented crisis, all Canadians need to know what the Prime Minister has to say. I urge him to change the time of his daily delivery so that Canadians in the West have a chance to sleep in a bit and still listen live with a homemade cup of coffee.

Putting the Prime Minister’s conferences onto a PVR recording and playing it to my family later just doesn’t feel the same.

Aapo Skogster Langley, B.C.

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