The facts are undeniable: Tam was late at every step, focused on political correctness and lecturing when the virus could have been stopped, and seemed less informed of the risk than the general public and the MPs who were asking her questions.
There is an understandable need in a crisis to feel like we can trust those who are in power.
After all, it’s reassuring to believe that the people making the big decisions know what they are doing.
But sometimes, the evidence is so overwhelming that it makes it impossible to deny how incompetent an official has responded to a crisis.
Of course, this is obvious in the case of Patty Hadju, who has flailed around desperately and been weeks behind at every step. That said, it was perhaps expected, given that she has no medical experience and was thrust into a massive crisis.
Yet, in the case of Dr. Theresa Tam, the Chief Public Health Officer of Canada, it’s simply inexplicable how badly she has handled this.
And in an amazing, and devastating timeline compiled by David Staples of the Edmonton Journal, the immense failure of Tam’s response is revealed.
Here are a few excerpts:
Jan. 29: Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer,on Twitter: “I am concerned about the growing number of reports of racism and stigmatizing comments on social media directed to people of Chinese and Asian descent related to 2019-nCoV coronavirus… Racism, discrimination and stigmatizing language are unacceptable and very hurtful… Everyone has a part to play in preventing the spread of the virus. The Chinese community and all travellers from affected areas are a key part of these efforts….Racism, discrimination and stigmatizing language are unacceptable and very hurtful. These actions create a divide of Us Vs Them. Canada is a country built on the deep-rooted values of respect, diversity and inclusion.”
Also on January 29, Tam was questioned about the possibility of calling for travellers to self-isolate:
Tam replies, defending the policy of voluntary self-isolation of only those travellers showing clear symptoms: “Right now, we have protocols in place, together with the provinces and territories, on isolating cases. Certainly, doing rigorous contact tracing and monitoring is the key to preventing any spread from a case in Canada. That, I think, is of primary importance. For other completely asymptomatic people, currently there’s no evidence that we should be quarantining them.”
Tam stresses the need to work to have affected communities work with everyone else. “Otherwise, they’ll be stigmatized. They will be asked to take measures beyond what is currently the public health evidence. It is a matter of balance when you’re restricting someone’s freedom, essentially, to move about in the community after return. I think that is not something that we would take lightly.”
Tam says that Canada was working on this with the WHO. “They know they have to get to the bottom of this, but we do know that even people with mild symptoms don’t transmit very readily. Could they? It’s possible, but that’s not what drives an actual epidemic … I think we have to be reasonable in our public measures and just balance out the risks and benefits. In terms of the impacts, they are not simply health impacts, but psychological and other health impacts, as well as non-health impacts, those being societal and economic as well.”
And here is perhaps the worst part:
Tam downplays risk to Canada: “Right now, the cases are in China. Very few are exported. Yes, there’s human-to-human transmission, but those are generally for close contacts. With regard to the severity of illness, there are some severe cases, but the deaths have occurred in older people with underlying medical conditions. With all of that pulled together, for the general public who have not been to China, the risk is low in Canada.”
Tam also opposed travel bans:
“Right now, let’s say, WHO does not recommend travel bans, and any measures that a country is to take must not be out of proportion to the risk and must not inappropriately impact travel and trade. We are a signatory to the international health regulations and we’ll be called to account if we do anything different.”
Tam was wrong on everything
Tam, the supposed “expert,” was wrong on everything.
She was wrong on travel bans – something the Liberal government ended up imposing over a month later.
She was wrong on asymptomatic transmission, as it is now well-known that people can transmit the virus without feeling sick.
She was wrong on voluntary quarantine, as the lack of quarantines early on meant that cases in China became cases in Canada. After all, all of Canada’s cases started as imported cases from foreign travel. Now, many of our cases are from ‘community spread,’ but that community spread was seeded by the foreign travel in the first place.
Then, in a stunning moment, Tam expressed her philosophy that viruses are stopped at hospitals, not borders:
“This is a virus. It can cross borders. This is a layer of a multi-layered response. The most important layer, of course, is the initial entry into the health system. We’ve talked a bit about that. At the actual international border, I see it as a great opportunity to absolutely make someone aware of what to do if they’re sick after entry.”
This shows a horrendous lack of basic understanding of what a pandemic is, all the more stunning because understanding this is Tam’s JOB.
After all, the countries that imposed the toughest early border controls and ruthless screening, particularly Taiwan, Singapore, South Korea, and Hong Kong managed to ‘bend the curve’ with amazing speed, and get things under control.
By letting the virus into the hospitals as Tam proposed, that also means letting it spread throughout the community, and then the country. It also puts health care workers at risk, raising the prospect of a system collapse.
Again, this is all common-sense. If you can stop a virus from getting in, you should do that. And even if you don’t fully stop it at the border, you at least cut back on the number of cases.
I can’t emphasize this enough. There is no reason that I should have to be explaining this to Tam, who is supposed to be the expert.
But she was simply dead wrong at literally every step of the way, showing – and I mean this seriously – far less understanding of the situation than most people on Twitter.
Tam has failed miserably, putting political correctness, and virtue-signalling lecturing ahead of doing her job. She couldn’t grasp the situation in time, and when she grasped the seriousness of it it was far too late to stop it.
Now, it is spreading big time within Canada.
For the time being, Tam is still in her position, and while it would be best for her to be fired and replaced with someone more competent (Jane Philpott would be nice to have around right now), that is unlikely to happen.
So, I think all Canadians hope that – at least starting now – Tam gets things right going forward.
With that in mind, some may question why I’m even bringing this up at all. Some may say, “those mistakes were all in the past,” so how is it constructive to talk about it amid this crisis?
Well, the reason is that there are still important decisions to be made by Tam and others in this crisis. Decisions like when to loosen up restrictions, how to distribute essential resources, and keep Canadians aware of what must be done.
Additionally, there is a strong possibility of a second CCP Coronavirus wave in the fall/winter, meaning a tough, even ruthless response of either keeping our borders shut, or closing them again rapidly will be needed.
Hence why the criticism and an honest look at Tam’s failures is essential. If she is still in the role when another wave hits, and if she hasn’t learned from her failures, then she will repeat the same mistaken advice that has caused this crisis to be far worse than it had to be.
We are still a free nation. We are still a democracy. And holding our public officials accountable for their mistakes remains essential.
Photo – YouTube