Coronavirus: Medical experts address Kingston-area MPP’s COVID-19 claims

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Lanark—Frontenac—Kingston MPP has held several social gatherings with people opposed to mandatory masks and lockdowns. Now medical experts are explaining the science behind it all. – Nov 26, 2020

COVID-19 case numbers and deaths continue to surge across Ontario.

After months of cases in the double and triple digits, the province hasn’t had a day in weeks where there hasn’t been over 1,000.

The spike has brought with it an increase in deaths. On Wednesday, the provincial death toll rose to 3,554, as 35 more deaths were reported — the highest increase in deaths in the second wave.

Read more: Ontario reports 1,373 new coronavirus cases, 35 more deaths

The Ford Government recently initiated lockdowns in Toronto and Peel regions, but this hasn’t stopped some from protesting these decisions.

On Thursday, Kingston-area MPP Randy Hillier is planning a demonstration outside of Queen’s Park.

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“The police, the health departments, nobody is charging me or others for violating these unlawful orders, and now I want to test these orders. I want to test these laws that Doug Ford has enacted,” said Hillier via zoom on Tuesday.

Hillier held a similar protest on Oct. 21 that exceeded the province’s gathering limits during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Toronto police said at the time they did not issue any tickets.

Read more: No tickets laid at gathering organized by Hillier to ‘challenge’ COVID-19 gathering limits

Hillier’s recent defiance of provincial mandated rules has come with both praise and backlash on social media.

A former constituent, who says he began emailing Hillier while in high school over his skepticism of climate change, has once again reached out to the politician.

This time, it’s about Hillier’s downplaying of the severity of COVID-19.

“He never emailed me back, but he gave me a phone call pretty soon after that, and that’s where he got kind of aggravated,” said Dylan Loller, who now attends Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont.

“He said to me, not everyone lives forever, and that really irked me. I said to him I just wish  that’s something he would say, looking in the eyes of all the people in the family that have lost their lives from COVID.”

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Hillier told Global News that he has spoken to many of his elderly constituents, and many have said they want to be free and aren’t scared of the virus. He encourages the elderly and those with underlying health issues but questions the severity to children.

“We’re creating a significant amount of very dangerous harm to a great many people over what everybody recognizes is something similar to regular flu season,” said Hillier.

Read more: Randy Hillier permanently kicked out of Ontario PC caucus

Medical professionals are refuting his claim that COVID-19 is similar to that of influenza.

“When we think about influenza, we have to remember we have underlying immunity in our population. Many of us have been if not all of us have been exposed to it in the past. We have vaccines; we have therapeutics. And we understand a lot about influenza. COVID-19 is the exact opposite,” said Dr. Jason Kindrachuk, the Canadian Research  Chair of emerging diseases.

As a community, Dr. Kindrachuk says we do not have any underlying immunity and no vaccine, and health professionals are still learning about COVID-19, citing that the number of COVID-19 deaths is far more than an influenza crisis.

“Over 250,000 dead in the U.S. this year alone. Usually, influenza runs somewhere between 30,000 and 50,000 during a seasonal crisis like in 2009,” said Dr. Kindrachuk.

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Health officials have also come out against Hillier’s stance that only the elderly are at risk of severe complications from COVID-19.

Dr. Kirk Leifso, a Kingston pediatrician and infectious disease specialist, says our understanding of children’s role in transmission is evolving, and it does appear that, even though hospitalizations among children are low,  children are as likely to catch coronavirus.

“They’re probably more likely to be either asymptomatic or paucisymptomatic,” said Dr. Leifso.

He went on to say that children can spread the virus and that researchers don’t know everything about the potential impact of COVID-19 on children.

“Because we’ve done such a good job up until now, at least from the start of pandemic shielding children, that we may be just aren’t seeing the numbers of infections that would drive kids into the hospital.”

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Because of the low community spread in the Kingston-area people tend to question the severity of the virus and rebel against public health guidelines because they’re not directly affected, according to Dr. Leifso.

“We are victims of our own success,” said Dr. Leisfo.