News Dr. Tam warns young people they are not “invincible” SHARE ON: Mo Fahim, staff Monday, Jun. 15th, 2020 According to Health Canada, the country now has 38,515 active cases of COVID-19, with the death toll from the virus now at 8,146. The agency’s head says 60,272 Canadians have recovered, that’s 61-percent of the country’s 98,000 confirmed cases. Dr. Theresa Tam says labs across Canada have tested over 2.1-million people for COVID-19 and over the past week an average of 33,000 people were tested daily with two percent returning positive. Tam issued a reminder to Canadians that the reality is that COVID-19 is still out there, saying she heard from her colleagues that younger people are going outside more and may not be respecting public health advise. Tam urged young Canadians to listen to local health units, “if you feel young and somewhat invincible that is definitely not the case.” She said today is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, and that home is not a safe place for many people experiencing family and gender-based violence including child maltreatment, intimate partner violence and elder abuse and neglect. Tam says this kind of violence has devastating consequences for children, women, families, and communities, and that it can leave long-lasting impacts on physical and mental health and could affect future relationships. Tam says there are concerns about an increase in family and gender-based violence in the time of COVID-19 as some jurisdictions have observed increases and reports of domestic violence causing cries for support lines and demand for emergency shelter. She also says child welfare organizations have observed a concerning decrease in the reporting of child abuse and neglect. Tam acknowledges that public health measures necessary to slow the spread of COVID-19 are leaving some Canadians isolated with violent partners or family members during the pandemic, and typical community supports have not always been available to identify and support those at risk. Tam said if you are a woman experiencing violence, sheltersafe.ca can connect you with a shelter in your area. If you are a young person at risk or experiencing violence you can call Kids Help Phone or go to kidshelpphone.ca for confidential help and support and If you are in immediate danger call 911 or your local police. And if you are a healthcare or social service provider, Tam says you may be one of the first points of contact for a person experiencing family violence, so it is important that you are equipped to recognize signs of family violence and to respond safely and effectively. According to Tam the Public Health Agency of Canada has supported the development of evidence-based guidance and online education resources to help first contact-responders recognize and safely respond to child maltreatment, intimate partner violence, and children’s exposure to intimate partner violence. Tam also says the VEGA Family Violence Education Resources are free and publicly available on the McMaster University website in English and French. She says family violence and gender-based violence are serious public health issues that affect children, youth, families, women, and communities.