Dr. Ian Gemmill answers frequently asked questions

Merna Emara
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Dr. Ian Gemmill is the acting medical officer of health for the Northwestern Health Unit (NWHU). Jon Begg, communications and public relations specialist at the NWHU administers and conducts weekly public meeting streamed on either NWHU’s Facebook page or GoTo Meeting sessions to answer questions. To find out how to participate in the next Question and Answer session with Dr. Gemmill, visit the NWHU online. Here are some of the questions Gemmill received in his last session.

What are your thoughts about the province entering stage 2 of its reopening plan?

“We all have to pull together because we don’t want to pull apart. When we have a government policy that comes into play that we all need to support it and do our very best to make sure that not only is it done correctly, but also done safely. I would say that it is clear that at some point in time we have to get to a situation where people can be employed safely, children can be safely looked after if their parents are working. We are in an uncharted territory here in that we have never gone through a pandemic where we locked down and had to keep our thumb on the hose and release it slowly as it happens. In this case, we want to see what happens in terms of getting things back to normal, but we also want to see what happens in terms of health impact and that is our job.”

Do you have any advice for the businesses that are reopening and for the people who are going to be there for products and services?

“It is different to go shopping now than it was before. I think the same things have to be in place for daycare centres. Daycare centres have run in the past and they had good infection control in place, but nevertheless when we have a lot of young children together it is hard to maintain social distancing. We have to have as good infection control as possible. My advice to the businesses is to look at some of the guidelines that have been published. I know that the government of Canada and government of Ontario have got guidelines for businesses. There are some resources available under coronavirus. It is very important for businesses to be cognizant of reducing the risk to the greatest possible extent and to the people that work for them. We don’t want people in businesses to be at excess risk, the most important part of reopening is to adhere to personal measures.”

Is the Northwestern Health Unit still advising people to not travel out of their communities?

“The advice and the policies are changing with time. My advice would be to safely enjoy all the beautiful areas in the northwest. If you had to travel for essential things or personal family matters go ahead. But travelling, I’m assuming, will be slowly relaxed as well but also make sure you follow protective measures when you travel.”

With the province reopening, what are the recommendations for people who are over the age of 70 with underlying conditions?

“It is very important for people, especially those at a higher risk to be especially cautious about protecting themselves. We know that age is the most important factor for complications should one be exposed to this virus. Age does not mean you are more likely to get it. It means you are more likely to become ill with serious complications. We all have our own ability and responsibility to keep ourselves as healthy as we possibly can. It is very important to strictly adhere to personal protective measures by maintaining your own bubble with your family.”