Medicine professor says no need to panic over COVID-19 reinfection

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An expert says Canadians don't need to panic about COVID-19 reinfections even as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has tested positive a second time for the virus.

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An expert says Canadians don’t need to panic about COVID-19 reinfections even as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has tested positive a second time for the virus.

Stephen Hoption Cann, a clinical professor with the University of British Columbia’s faculty of medicine, says it’s difficult to say how prevalent reinfections are because data is limited.

He says it should be expected people can get COVID-19 again — just like Trudeau, who said in a Twitter post Monday that he was isolating and feeling “OK.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau removes his mask before answering questions at an announcement in Ottawa, on Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

“The variant currently (circulating) does cause people to get hospitalized at a lower rate,” said Hoption Cann.”The real concern is not that you get infected, but you get reinfected and develop a severe illness from that infection.”

Hoption Cann said research shows those who are not vaccinated are more likely to get COVID-19 more than once.

Most provinces don’t track reinfections. However, government data in Ontario shows that from May 22 to May 28, 294 people reported having caught COVID-19 repeatedly. That number went down to 238 from May 29 to June 4.

Hoption Cann said there’s no need to bring back mandatory masking or tracking to prevent reinfections because Canadian health care needs to prioritize more immediate concerns such as monkeypox and other viruses.

He encourages everyone to do a personal risk assessment to prevent reinfection.

“If you’re at lower risk, you’re probably not going to take as many precautions, but if the person’s elderly, has other health conditions, they should probably take more precautions because any infection could go poorly for them.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 13, 2022.

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