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‘Individual responsibility is not gone’: B.C. disease expert on Canada’s eased COVID rules

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An infectious disease expert says even though more COVID-19 restrictions are easing, it does not mean individual responsibility has also eased.

“I would remind us all that there are still rules to follow even though there are no provincial mandate,” said Brian Conway, the medical director at the Vancouver Infectious Diseases Centre.

“When restrictions were eased several weeks ago here in British Columbia, it led to the expected increase in the number of cases that were transmitted. And several weeks later, which is now, it’s leading to an increase in hospitalization rates. So I think that any easing with COVID still around will eventually lead to an increase in transmission.”

Read more: Canada eased its travel rules again. What to know, and how to guard against COVID

On Monday, Ottawa lifted several measures related to travel with many Canadians seeking trips abroad for potentially the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began in early 2020.

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As of 12:01 a.m. ET, unvaccinated and partially vaccinated kids ages five to 11 accompanied by a fully vaccinated parent, step-parent, guardian or tutor no longer need to complete a pre-entry COVID-19 test to enter Canada.

However, pre-entry tests are required for partially vaccinated or unvaccinated travellers ages 12 and older who are currently eligible to travel to Canada, Ottawa said on Friday. Children under five years of age are not required to provide COVID-19 test results.

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Conway said even though these changes have been made, children between ages five and 11 should still be vaccinated, especially if they want to travel, and teens and adults should get their vaccines when they are eligible.

Read more: Unvaccinated people increase risk of COVID-19 infection among vaccinated: study

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“I don’t like to be dogmatic, but this is one time where I might be,” Conway added. “If you don’t want to wear a mask, don’t get on an airplane. I think right now you owe it not only to yourself, to protect yourself but to all of those around you. Again, there are no provincial mandates, this does not mean that individual responsibility in the era of COVID is gone. This is what is going to make us survive the spring and survive the summer, is if we all realize that COVID is not gone and there’s still work to do.”

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– with files from Global News’ Aaron D’Andrea

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