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Ontario says people have to 'learn to live with" an ever-present COVID

Dr. Theresa Tam appears during a COVID-19 briefing Feb. 4, wearing a black flowered jacket in front of a black and white "COVID-19" background.
Theresa Tam
Canada's top doctor, Theresa Tam, appears in a COVID-19 briefing Feb. 4.

Top health officials in Ontario are beginning to speak about "learning to live with" COVID-19. Even Canada’s top doctor said the country needs to find a more sustainable way to address the virus.

It’s become a phrase being spoken by Ontario’s chief medical officer of health and Premier Doug Ford. Up until now, the main messages have been stay home, wear a mask, keep a safe distance and get vaccinated.

For many the change in rhetoric is welcome. For others it could be terrifying.

Ontario’s top doctor, Kieran Moore, said the vaccines have made a difference, especially three doses.

“I think we have to reassess the value of the passports in the coming weeks and months. And clearly again that’s a government decision," Moore said. "The main benefit of the passport system now is that against severe outcomes we are well protected with two doses.”

Canada’s top doctor, Theresa Tam, suggested a turning point is getting closer because of the high rates of vaccination and because the Omicron variant is less severe.

"This virus is not going to disappear. And we need to be able to address the the ongoing presence of the SARS COVID-2 virus in a more sustainable way,” Tam said.

Ontario is gradually lifting restrictions over the next month and two prairie provinces, Albert and Saskatchewan, are talking about an end to pandemic measures.

But some in medical profession say the phrase "learning to live with the virus" is problematic and would like to see a more gradual transition of working to keep the most vulnerable people safe.

Most agree that COVID-19 will continue to be around for the foreseeable future and the discussion should shift to what public health measures should be maintained or just recommended.