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Dr. Oz apologizes for coronavirus remarks: ‘I misspoke’

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 has apologized for the remarks he made earlier this week 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.

Oz was under fire after he said those deaths “might be a trade-off some folks would consider.” He is now backtracking on his comments.

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“I’ve realized my comments about risks around opening schools have confused and upset people, which was never my intention,” he said in a video on Twitter. “I misspoke. As a heart surgeon, I spent my career fighting to save lives in the operating room by minimizing risks.

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

“At the same time, I’m being asked constantly: How will we be able to get people back to their normal lives? To do that, one of the important steps will be figuring out how do we get our children safely back to school. We know for many kids, school is a place of security, nutrition and learning that is missing right now. These are issues we are all wrestling with and I will continue looking for solutions to beat this virus.”

While appearing on Sean Hannity’s Fox News program earlier this week, Oz said the country should consider re-opening schools.

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“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,” he said.

“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.

“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.”

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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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Oz’s apology and explanation did not go over well with some social media users who responded to the video with more criticism.

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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.

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.

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