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Dr. Oz under fire for suggesting coronavirus deaths associated with reopening schools a ‘tradeoff’

Dr. Oz visits 'Outnumbered Overtime with Harris Faulkner' at Fox News Channel Studios on March 9, 2020 in New York City.
Dr. Oz visits 'Outnumbered Overtime with Harris Faulkner' at Fox News Channel Studios on March 9, 2020 in New York City. Roy Rochlin/Getty Images

Dr. Mehmet Oz is under fire after suggesting that the United States should consider reopening schools because it would only “cost us two to three per cent in terms of total mortality” due to the coronavirus pandemic.

While appearing on Sean Hannity’s Fox News program, Oz said: “We need our mojo back. Let’s start with things that are really critical to the nation where we think we might be able to open without getting into a lot of trouble.

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“I tell ya, schools are a very appetizing opportunity. I just saw a nice piece in the Lancet arguing the opening of schools may only cost us two to three per cent in terms of total mortality,” Oz continued.

“Any life is a life lost, but to get every child back into a school where they’re safely being educated, being fed and making the most out of their lives with a theoretical risk on the back side, that might be a tradeoff some folks would consider.”

The Lancet piece Oz was referencing was published on April 8 and noted that “188 countries have implemented countrywide school closures, but a modelling study … concluded that in the U.K., school closures alone will reduce COVID-19 deaths by only 2-4 per cent.”

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Many people took to social media to criticize Oz for his comments.

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On Thursday, Oz said that Boston University closing due to the coronavirus “really bothered” him.

“I learned that Boston University cancelled its fall semester. That really bothered me. How do you know right now in April — before you even tried to reopen — if you need to close down your school through the rest of this calendar year?” Oz told Fox & Friends.

He said that closing down the school “is not the right thing” for everyone.

“You’re hurting people that you’re responsible for. I am a doctor. I want you to be safer — I want you to err on the side of being overly cautious, but not at the expense of making decisions that don’t really serve us,” he said.

Oz has not commented on the criticism he’s received for his controversial comments as of this writing.

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.

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Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.