Burlington oncologist self isolating with her husband: This is not the time to fumble the flow of information to the public.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

March 12th, 2020



The oncologist, who works at the Juravinski Cancer Centre in Hamilton and lives in Burlington, was tested as having COVID19 virus symptoms and is at home self-isolating for a period of 14 days.

Her spouse, who is a surgeon at St. Joseph’s Healthcare, also treated an unknown number of patients at the Charlton Avenue hospital before he too went into self-isolation at their Burlington home Tuesday night.

The Gazette has a question: Do the parents have children and have those children been sent to school?

Dr Meghani at news conference Hamilton

Dr Hamidah Meghani, Halton Region Medical Officer of Heath.

Burlington finally got to hear from Dr. Hamidah Meghani, the Halton Medical Officer of Health (MoH) who said “Our case was not symptomatic on her flight, on her journey home, so we should not be worried about that situation,” said Meghani. “At this time the risk is associated with symptoms.”

Lumb HHS chief

Dr. Barry Lumb at a media event.

Hamilton Health Sciences physician-in-chief Dr. Barry Lumb said the oncologist “did not have respiratory symptoms” such as coughing, sneezing or fever.”

Dr. Meghani said she had “some mild respiratory symptoms.”

Which was it?

The news conference was cut off after less than 30 minutes and it wasn’t until the city held a second media availability in Hamilton at 3 p.m. that reporters were able to have all of their questions heard.

This is not the time to fumble the flow of information to the public.

Related news stories:

MoH was MIA

First COVID19 case in Halton

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8 comments to Burlington oncologist self isolating with her husband: This is not the time to fumble the flow of information to the public.

  • Moira

    I am appalled by the lack of investigation here from the Gazette, it has been widely reported that there are no children but regardless why would you be so irresponsible as to ask the question? Are you hoping to instigate fear into parents? Add more fuel to the fire?

    • Perryb

      Second the motion. Some of the people commenting here would not be so sanctimonious if they themselves were tested positive and others demand be be informed of their every breath.

    • Tom Muir

      Since the lady doc went back to work Monday and consulted with 14 patients (presumably cancer patients), and then reported sick after that, it would seem a reasonable question to ask if she had children.

      One comment here (Louise), based on her personal set of assumptions, then states that the doc is too young to have kids and then rips the Gazette for not making the same assumptions that she did and asking the question.

      In the context, it was reasonable not to make assumptions. Maybe she had kids young, or had one in nursery school. Louise didn’t let this unknown get in her way.

      Another comment (Moira) rips the Gazette again based on her assuming that everyone is supposed to know or intuit, based on so called wide reports there are no children, that there are no children. I never came across said wide reports.

      My own view is that parents ought to be fearful, both for their children and themselves – indeed all of us – if this virus gets really loose.

      Were any of the 14 patients tested positive? How many contacts have they had with others? What about the same questions about the husband, another doctor? I have seen no reports on this.

      How many transmission encounters have there been? Kids and pre public schools can be nurseries for virus too, and kids are the worst transmitters of all kinds of things. Is closing schools an appalling and irresponsible act? Or one designed to add fuel to the fire, or instigate fear in parents?

      Lots of reasons to support the questions asked. No rational and credible reason to rip the messenger that I can see.

      I agree with the Perryb comment on sanctimonious people as these two lady comments fall into that category to me. Maybe even fearful hysteria as well.

  • Susan Huizinga

    While sympathetic towards the oncologist who tested positive for Covid-19, I have more questions…

    Where did she go in Burlington, while unknowingly exposing other people to Covid-19. Has any effort been made to find out? If she went shopping at Fortinos, or Costco, or attended the gym – people she may be been in contact with need to know, so they can monitor themselves for symptoms, and maybe restrict visits to elderly friends and relatives until they can be tested.

    This is how illnesses spread. This is how panic spreads. Right now, everyone is worried that they may have been exposed. Releasing a list of places and times where she went between returning home and testing positive, would be good for the public. The public has the right to know.

    On a separate note – can people please stop hoarding? This “every person for themselves” panic mentality is bad for the community. How much toilet paper does one family need? Please leave enough hand sanitizer and soap for everyone! Just buy what you need.

    Another unrelated note – Some seniors or immune-compromised people don’t want to venture out in public right now. It would be nice to check on older family members, friends and neighbors to see if they would like shopping or other errands done for them? Do any of our community grocery stores have an online ordering system – where people could order supplies, and other people can pick things up and delivery them?

  • Louise F.

    Let’s see, a 32 year oncologist who spent a number of years in university, medical school, doing her residence, doesn’t really leave much time to have a child, let alone one old enough to be in school.
    A high school newspaper would practice more responsible journalism, this is more like a propaganda fishing expedition.

  • Penny Hersh

    How can one trust what is being said by the Physician-In-Chief, Dr. Barry Lamb when questions being asked by reporters is cut off and then a second media conference is called to provide proper information by Dr. Meghani, the Halton Regional Medical Officer for Halton.

    When Chrystia Freeland goes on CBC this morning and says that everyone flying in from affected countries are tested when arriving and a passenger arriving in Toronto from Italy last evening said on the news that there was no screening, that they simply received a flyer on how to deal with Covid-19. The passenger was more than surprised by this.

    When she indicates that Canada has the best health care system in the world and is prepared to deal with this, at the same time reports are coming that patients have been waiting up to 18 hours in emergency departments to get a bed, and elective surgeries have been cancelled, how can anything she says be taken seriously?

    Does Chrystia Freeland believe what she is spouting? Where is our Prime Minister in all this? Denmark has allocated much more in the way of funding for their people than Canada to help with this crisis and they are a much smaller country.

    Burlington has a huge demographic of seniors, and I have to question if wiping door handles and adding more hand sanitizers is enough in Senior and Community Centres.

    Personally, I think that all tables and chairs that are used in these facilities need to be wiped down with antiseptic after each class. Everyone working/volunteering in the “Bistro” at the Senior Centre should be wearing disposable gloves that are changed on an ongoing basis. Better to be safe than sorry.

    As one European leader said on the news – “failure to self-isolate, etc. could mean that you could be responsible for the death of your grandparents”.

    The health professionals know that this virus will be coming, they are trying to slow down the rate of infected patients so that our health care system can maybe handle the influx of patients.

    I agree that we have to “live our lives”, and as people have been saying the public has to take it on themselves to help contain the spread of this virus. The question is will they?