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Raptors’ Serge Ibaka thanks Toronto Public Health for coronavirus response efforts

Serge Ibaka thanks Toronto Public Health staff for work in responding to COVID-19
WATCH: The Toronto Raptors released a five-minute video of a FaceTime session between Serge Ibaka and Toronto Public Health staff. He thanked them for their efforts in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

As Toronto Public Health continues to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, Raptors forward Serge Ibaka held a FaceTime session with staff at the department to thank them.

“Everybody is appreciating what you have done and everything you have been doing — all your sacrifice,” Ibaka said in a five-minute video shared on the Toronto Raptors Twitter account Friday evening.

“Thank you for everything. Keep up your good work.”

READ MORE: Coronavirus: 967 active cases of COVID-19 in Ontario, province now at 18 deaths

Ibaka has been documenting his experiences at home on video as part of a series called, How bored are you?

The Raptors star, along with his teammates, had to spend two weeks in self-isolation beginning on March 13 after playing a game with the Utah Jazz earlier this month.

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Jazz player Rudy Gobert was subsequently diagnosed with COVID-19 after the game, which factored into the NBA’s decision to suspend the season.

The video shared on Twitter begins with Dr. Vinita Dubey, Toronto’s associate medical officer of health, asking Ibaka, whose love of scarfs has been widely-shared on social media, about his beloved scarf while thanking him for spreading the important messages of staying home, eating healthy food and staying active.

“You say the scarf is for art, but I’m actually telling you the scarf is part of public health,” she said, noting that if people need to visit a clinic they should wear a scarf over their face until they’re potentially given a mask.

“When you’re going to the clinic, you won’t give it to the rest of us. But when you’re done make sure you wash the scarf.”

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Dubey’s tip prompted Ibaka to call it “more than art,” piggybacking on his signature reference to his style of wearing scarves as “art.”

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“Health is always important, right?” he said.

Toward the end of the video, he spoke with Dr. Eileen de Villa, Toronto’s medical officer of health, and asked what people can do to help as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

“Keep your six feet distance whenever possible, and only go out when you have to … stay home and wear your scarf,” she said.

Ibaka said he was going to surprise de Villa and Toronto Public Health staff with a signed jersey.

Matthew Pegg, Toronto’s fire chief and general manager of emergency services, also appeared in the video and showcased a room of Toronto staff and hailed them as “heroes.” He tweeted back at Ibaka after the video was published.

“Here is the deal. If @sergeibaka @Raptors can hook us up with a snazzy scarf, I will wear it at a press conference alongside
@epdevilla and her famous @de_scarf scarves,” he said, referencing a parody Twitter account documenting the scarves that de Villa wears on a daily basis.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Up to 3,250 ventilators ready to be deployed in Ontario, officials say

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“Then, once we beat #COVID19 together, we will auction it off in support of @UWGreaterTO (the United Way of Greater Toronto). Deal? @JohnTory.”

The tweet prompted a quick response back from Ibaka.

“We have a deal @ChiefPeggTFS @epdevilla @JohnTory. Scarves are on the way,” he wrote.

As of Friday afternoon, there were 457 cases of COVID-19 in Toronto. Across the entire province, the Ontario government said there were 967 active cases of COVID-19. In total, 18 Ontario residents have died and eight cases have been deemed resolved.

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