Where to Find Reliable Information About COVID-19

Where to Find Reliable Information About COVID-19

There has been no subject more widely discussed than the nature of COVID-19 and its effect on the world’s population. It is a subject that everyone wants to jump in on, everyone has an opinion or a theory. It has never been more important to us all to learn about this pandemic from reliable, trustworthy, knowledgeable and authoritative sources.

In Perth and Huron Counties the first source of good local information and advice is the Huron Perth Public Health. The health unit information can be found at: https://www.hpph.ca/en/index.aspx. The health unit provides advice by telephone on a variety of public health issues including COVID-19. Call the nurse at: 519-221-3267 x3267. The Medical Officer of Heath, Dr. Miriam Klassen, has been talking about the current state of the virus weekly on Thursdays on Facebook www.facebook.com/HuronPerthPublicHealth. Your family doctor remains a primary source of medical advice and treatment.

For the province of Ontario, there are two official sources of information, the Government of Ontario and Public Health Ontario. The Government of Ontario website contains up to date information on everything you need to know about COVID-19 in Ontario. The Government of Ontario website is: https://covid-19.ontario.ca/. The Public Health Ontario website contains up to date information on COVID-19 research and an interactive tool showing COVID-19 activity in Ontario over time. The Public Health Ontario website is: https://www.publichealthontario.ca/.

A number of health scientists including epidemiologists and statisticians centered at the University of Toronto have been working together to provide analysis of COVID-19 data and can be found at: https://howsmyflattening.ca/. The dashboard provides some of the data graphically in an easy–to-read form.

One measure, Rt, is a particularly informative index. The Rt value is an estimate of whether the spread of the virus is expanding or contracting. It is a count of the number of people an infected person passes on the infection to over the next seven days after he or she has been tested positive.  If Rt is greater than 1 the number of affected people will grow, but if the number is less than 1 the number of affected people will shrink. Eventually as the disease wanes the Rt value should approach 0. From April 15 to June 24, 2020, the value of Rt for Ontario hovered around 1.

One of these investigators cited on the How’s My Flattening site, Mohammed Abdalla, has analyzed the nature of calls to the 211 community information service before and after the pandemic and it documents the substantial increase in calls after the closure of schools and other public institutions as of the end of April, 2020. He provides information about who is using the service and the nature of calls. This report can be found at: https://howsmyflattening.ca/#/analysis/211_ontario_:_social_effects_of_covid-19.

The Public Health Agency of Canada provides reliable data for the country as a whole. It can be found at: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/coronavirus-disease-covid-19.html

International data are provided by the World Health Organization which can be located at: https://www.who.int.

A reliable source for  American COVID-19 data and analysis is Johns Hopkins University which can be found at: https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/.

Since it is so important to understand and eradicate this virus many people have new, untried ideas about how to deal with the virus and many are proposing that treatments for other diseases, some of which are unrelated to COVID-19, be tried. One should be very careful not to buy into “plausible” but untested and unproven remedies. Advice on filtering through these proposed remedies is offered by many sources. The American Food and Nutrition Science Alliance offers a list of 10 signs that the material you are reading may be junk science (as reproduced by the University of Nevada at Reno). This list includes accepting quick fixes, believing claims that seem too good to be true, accepting recommendations based on a single study and following lists of “good” and “bad” foods.

Scientific questions about COVID-19 are often addressed by Dr. Joe Swarcz and his colleagues at the McGill University Centre for Science and Society. This office has a long history of critically examining science and medical questions that are in the public eye.

CBC Radio’s Quirks and Quarks has interviewed experts in this subject. They deliver their reports on radio, and on Facebook

The American public radio programme, Science Friday, has addressed the disease and the pandemic often. They have a radio programme on NPR and deliver their message by podcast too.

There are many good, trustworthy sources for reliable information of COVID-19 and the pandemic.

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