Canadians Who Must Self-Isolate Due to Monkeypox Should Receive Federal Support: Tam

Canadians Who Must Self-Isolate Due to Monkeypox Should Receive Federal Support: Tam
Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam listens to a question during a news conference in Ottawa on Jan. 12, 2021. (The Canadian Press/Adrian Wyld)
Isaac Teo

Canadians who contracted monkeypox and were required to self-isolate should receive federal aid, says Canada’s chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam.

“If we can [provide aid] in the COVID-19 context, I think we should think about it more broadly for infectious diseases, particularly ones that affect communities and when there’s a public health emergency as well,” Tam said in a virtual press conference on Aug. 12.

Tam was giving an update on the state of the monkeypox virus in Canada when she was asked by a reporter whether the federal government is planning to provide temporary funding for those diagnosed with the disease and who have to undergo a quarantine period of up to a month or longer.

“It’s important that those who cannot support themselves get other supports. And I think that can come in different ways, and by all different levels of government,” said Tam, first reported by Blacklock’s Reporter.

As of Aug. 12, the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) counted a total of 1059 confirmed cases of monkeypox across the country, including 511 cases in Ontario, 426 in Quebec, 98 in British Columbia, 19 in Alberta, 3 in Saskatchewan, and 2 in the Yukon.

Among the cases for whom additional information is available, PHAC said over 99 percent are male with a median age of 35.

“In line with international trends, the majority of confirmed cases in Canada with available information on exposure history reported intimate sexual contact with other men,” Tam said in an Aug. 12 statement.

“Nationally, less than one percent of confirmed cases with available information on age and sex were in females or people under 20 years of age.”

“Internationally, women and youth, likewise account for one percent or less of reported cases,” she added.

No deaths due to monkeypox have been reported in Canada to date, though 28 patients have been hospitalized, including two in intensive care units, Tam said.

Current evidence suggests that monkeypox is spread via direct physical contact, according to PHAC.

“In the current outbreak in Canada, we are largely seeing person-to-person spread,” said the Aug. 12 statement.

“This can occur when someone has close contact with an infected person’s bodily fluids, respiratory droplets or skin sores. It may also occur through direct contact with clothing, sheets or other personal items that have been in contact with someone infected with the monkeypox virus.”

Tam said the federal government has deployed over 99,000 doses of Imvamune vaccine to provinces and territories so far, with more than 50,000 people vaccinated as of Aug. 11.