COVID-19: 11 comments from uOttawa experts in the media

Posted on Saturday, March 21, 2020

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As we work from home during this coronavirus crisis, media outlets across the country are avidly seeking expert opinions from University of Ottawa researchers and professors. Here are 11 comments from our experts this week that will keep you well informed, in either official language.


Social distancing: How far is far enough?

To the many parents searching for activities to keep their children busy these days, here is what Earl Brown, professor emeritus at uOttawa had to say.

“When you’re thinking about where’s a safe place, you want to go away from where people are touching and spending time.”

COVID-19 latest developments

In this interview, Dr. Marc-André Langlois, professor at the University of Ottawa’s Faculty of Medicine, explains why social distancing is the order of the day from health professionals.

“What we’re trying to do in calling for social distancing is to reduce the rate and speed of transmission so that we don’t overwhelm our medical services. Also, if you distance people, they’re not in proximity to get infected. The second advantage is that eventually it will weed out all of those who are infected, that are still in the incubation period and may not be demonstrating any symptoms.”

COVID-19: panic and the role that citizens play

Luc Bonneville, a professor at the University of Ottawa’s Department of Communications, discusses how panic can spread misinformation.

“You need to check the source of the information and stick to reliable sources. Consider everything out there with a grain of salt (or even a shaker), and especially, don’t fall into the trap of sharing all the catastrophic images and sensationalist information circulating on social media.”

COVID-19: No, a disinfecting spray cannot guarantee a healthy environment

Luc Bonneville, professor at the Department of Communications of the University of Ottawa, debunks the idea that one product might be capable of specifically killing the coronavirus. 

“Public health authorities are trying to get the message across that COVID-19 may be slightly more contagious than expected, is spreading rapidly, and could overwhelm our healthcare system, and misinformation about miracle cures trivializes this vital information.”

In the face of COVID-19, we must understand Canada’s lockdown powers
The Globe and Mail

This column was written by Colleen M. Flood, director of the University of Ottawa’s Centre for Health Law, Policy and Ethics and University Research Chair, and Bryan Thomas, adjunct professor, Faculty of Law at the University of Ottawa

“Countries grappling with more severe outbreaks have reached for even more forceful measures. In January, China imposed travel restrictions on all of Hubei province (population 60 million) – the largest cordon sanitaire (restriction of movement of people in a certain geographic location) in history. At the time, legal commentators offered reassurances that such draconian measures would be inconceivable in Western democracies. That was before the whole of Italy was put on lockdown. Is it really inconceivable that similar steps might be taken in Canada?”

Federal public servants should work from home if possible: TBS
uOttawa professor offers work from home tips


Umar Ruhi, an associate professor at uOttawa's Telfer School of Management who consults for companies setting up work-from-home policies, said he's getting calls from businesses that are scrambling because they didn't have telecommuting strategies in place before the COVID-19 crisis.

Ruhi said their priorities should be a technology platform that works remotely, and an emergency communication strategy. From an employee standpoint, he said the biggest issues are burnout, and boundaries between work and family.

COVID-19: Your questions answered
Ottawa Citizen, March 17

If I catch COVID-19 and recover, am I then resistant and safe from getting it again? 

Answer and explanation by Earl G. Brown, Emeritus Professor of Virology at the University of Ottawa.

“The biology of the SARS CoV 2 and the nature of human infections with other coronaviruses strongly suggest that you cannot be re-infected with the same virus – at least not immediately after infection.”

Intensive care, ventilators, healthy staff key for survival of COVID-19 sickest
Ottawa Citizen

Dr. Gianni D’Engidio, an assistant professor of medicine at uOttawa, said he’s hopeful the public health measures such as social distancing and restrictions on international travel will mean the sickest can receive the care they require. However, in four or five weeks “if health-care workers start getting sick … then that’s where the major problem is.”

Less pollution thanks to COVID-19
Journal de Québec

The economic impact of the crisis is just beginning to be felt in Quebec, but we can expect a decrease in greenhouse gas emissions, according to Jean-Thomas Bernard, an expert in environmental economics at the University of Ottawa

“When an economic slowdown is coupled with restrictions on transportation, greenhouse gas emissions are affected.”

Managing stress and anxiety during a crisis
TVA Nouvelles

In this television interview, psychology professor Nafissa Ismail outlines how the COVID-19 situation is having a real psychological impact on the public.

“I would say to those who are anxious to stick to reliable sources for information. And once you’re informed, there’s no need to keep revisiting the same information: that just adds to the stress.” 

The challenges of working from home
TVA Nouvelles

Marc Tassé, professor at the Telfer School of Management, answered a series of questions about telework.

“It’s up to the IT experts in your workplace to ensure that your computer, your information and your network are secure. It’s not up to you to try to do this, because you don’t necessarily know how. Many businesses weren’t ready for this: for them, work from home is a trial during a crisis. So, people are doing their best, but the information must remain secure.”

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