[intro music] [Cristine hums the intro] Cristine: Public health, yeah Ben: Hey, whats up, holo everyone and welcome back to another episode of simplypodlogical.
a simplynailogical podcast.
Today, we are doing something a little bit different through some of our friends at YouTube.
Today we have the opportunity to talk to the Deputy Chief Public Health Officer of Canada, Dr.
Cristine: Hmmm fancy Ben: Mmmhmm Cristine: So this is really exciting.
It's our first guest ever on our podcast, so no pressure.
[Ben and Cristine laugh] Cristine: But I'll just like to give a quick bio of Dr.
Njoo because you guys out there know we live in Canada obviously so Dr.
Njoo is an important government figure for public health here in Canada.
We see him on the TV pretty much everyday, when we tune into press conferences.
But I'll just read a little bit of his bio to give you some background.
Njoo is the Deputy Chief Public Health Officer at the Public Health Agency of Canada.
He is a federal government employee who directly supports the Chief Public Health Officer in providing public health advice to Canadians.
In addition to just working for the government, he's also worked as public health physician, a medical epidemiologist and a frontline clinician in infectious diseases for almost 30 years.
He's been involved in the Government of Canada's response to outbreaks before like SARS in 2003 and H1N1 in 2009 as well as some international experience advising Guinea after the Ebola outbreak in 2015.
So, that's just like 10% of his resume.
Ben: Yeah I think we get the point.
He's got a very long, impressive resume and we very much appreciate that he was able to make a little bit of time for us today so he can may be reach a bit of an audience online that might not be tuning in these press conferences on Parliament Hill.
So, yeah without further ado here's the interview with Dr.
Njoo!) Cristine: Alright, so here with us today is Dr.
Njoo, the Deputy Chief Public Health Officer of Canada and we are so grateful that you made the time to talk to us today.
So I am gonna get right into the questions because I know you are a very busy man.
Could you explain your role as a Deputy Chief Public Health Officer of Canada and what a typical day looks like for you right now? Dr.
Njoo: Wow, that's, that's an interesting question.
So um, as a Deputy Chief Public Health Officer I obviously support Dr.
Theresa Tam, who is the Public Chief Public Health Officer of Canada, so I would say that the two of us we're the, I would say, the lead public health technical experts at the Public Health Agency of Canada, which is the lead federal department or agency for the federal government in public health.
But we recognize that we need to work closely with what we call our counterparts in the provinces and territories, the Chief Medical Officers of Health.
So, in terms of public health in Canada its a small community, we are very connected we have lots of interaction and so certainly dealing with COVID-19 and other public health issues I see our primary role as the federal government is to basically be a bit of a coordinator.
To bring the provinces and territories together and make sure that whatever we do across Canada is at the end of the day, what we say a coherent response, so that the average Canadian sees it as a seamless approach and doesn't really see there is much of a difference between what the federal government does and what the provinces and the territories do.
Cristine: Yeah exactly, we all want to be on the same page right?(Dr.
) Cristine: So, how does a typical day right now for you look different than, to say, 3 months ago? Dr.
Njoo: Wow, it seems like a lifetime ago.
I think we started this, back in January so uh, things have obviously evolved.
But I would say that right now, my typical day if I were to look at it, starts probably about 8 o'clock in the morning.
We have a regular teleconference Dr.
Tam, myself and other key officials here in Health Canada and Public Health Agency of Canada with our own federal Health Minister So we give her an update in terms of what's been happening across the country in terms of, uh, the latest epidemiological data, the case counts, what some of the key issues are in terms of outbreaks and uh, and what might be happening you know, in British Columbia compared to Quebec.
Then obviously, we give her an update in terms of some of the activities that we're involved in.
For example dealing with a scientist, what is the latest research findings, what are we doing in terms of developing guidance to help the frontline workers.
And obviously we also get her input in terms of what she sees as important issues that she would like to focus on and also be prepared for.
And then we take all that, and then it becomes a series of teleconferences.
After our teleconference with the Minister we have a teleconference with all of the key officials here at the Public Health Agency of Canada.
Make sure that our battle rhythm of the day, if you can call it that, for the day is well set, everyone knows who is in charge of what, who needs to deal with a certain issue and come back and bring a, bring sort of a a progress report back to the other people at the table so that we're all coordinated for what we need to do during the day.
After that, obviously Dr.
Tam and myself, we look at the latest reports, get all the input from various staff members, in terms of what are the hot issues what we need to be prepared for because as you may have noticed we do uh, daily press conferences now.
It's always noon Ottawa-time every day.
And and so uh, we need to prepare and obviously then go down, or go up, to Parliament Hill go into the special room sometimes joined by Ministers, and uh we do our thing, in terms of uh giving Canadians an update in terms of what's happening across Canada, what we see as some of the key issues.
We've been, I think probably, maybe to a fault underlining the key messages to all Canadians what they can do, what they should do to help deal with COVID-19.
Everything from individual things such as, obviously good handwashing good, what we call, cough etiquette maintaining what we call social distancing or physical distancing of 2 meters apart, stay in your bubble.
All of those things are so important.
And uh what we also hope to do, and we're starting to see some evidence, is that these efforts are paying off in terms of what we call, flattening the curve.
We can talk more about that, what that means.
And so, that's what we do from noon to about 1 o'clock.
After that, we both come back to the office and then when it's all that I say the real uh, the real hard behind the scenes.
So, we have daily calls with all of our provincial and territorial counterparts: the Chief Medical Officers of Health.
We talk about their hot issues, we exchange information, we look at the kinds of things that we need to focus on, what might be happening down the road, or what people see as uh, potential things that we need to deal with.
And then we obviously talk to our technical staff in terms of pieces of work that they need to work on.
And then these teleconferences and the work actually continues into the afternoon and even into the evenings.
Often we're on teleconferences well into the evening.
And then the next morning, depending on sort of uh- Cristine: It doesn't start over again? Ben: I'm exhausted already.
Njoo: Then it starts over) and then sometimes we even have what we call, international calls.
Because uh, you know, we keep a close eye on what's happening internationally.
And for example, there might be a call that's convened by the World Health Organization and that's a challenge because uh, I think the best time that's worked for everyone is at uh- the WHO might organize a call that's, I think about two o'clock in the afternoon their time, which would be eight o'clock in the morning our time, which means who knows what time it is in the other parts of the world and uh, same thing.
It's one of those things where international collaboration is so key in terms of exchanging uh, our experiences, best practices what's been happening with the science and so on.
So at the end of the day, hopefully it really is a coordinated global effort to deal with COVID-19.
Cristine: So it sounds like a record number of really important meetings, is what your day's like.
Njoo: For sure, for sure.
) Cristine: So today, you're reaching a different type of audience than the one you reach like daily with Canadian television updates, which Ben and I watch also, so we appreciate that.
We see you on TV everyday.
But today on YouTube, you're reaching a different audience that may not necessarily be tuning-in to the daily press conferences that are happening on Parliament Hill.
It's likely a bit of a younger audience.
So, what is the main message you think that young people need to hear right now from a public health perspective, and are young Canadian, adults and teenagers, getting the message? Dr.
Njoo: Well, I think the key message we want to give to everyone is that, “Wow, this really is a serious thing.
” It's something that certainly in my whole career, 30 years plus, haven't seen.
I think lots of other people around the world have never seen anything like this.
The fact is that we're dealing with a completely new virus.
And what does that mean? Well, that means that no one in the world, or at least the beginning of all of this, had any sort of protection or immunity, natural sort of defence against this virus.
Everyone was equally susceptible as compared to many other infectious diseases where, you know- For example seasonal flu, certain people might have been exposed to a similar strain a year before et cetera, therefore, not be as suspectible.
Plus we do have, what we call, vaccines and other treatments against seasonal flu.
For this new virus, completely new, no one in the world was prepared for it.
And you can just see how devastating it's been.
You look at countries around the world as the virus basically propagated around the world.
Countries in terms of the number of cases, and also, obviously, hospitalizations and unfortunately, a lot of deaths certainly was sobering.
We were, I think, somewhat lucky in Canada.
We were able to see what happened in China and then obviously in Europe, countries like Italy and Spain and that helped us also, prepare for what we could be facing in Canada.
So I think, certainly I think that the key message is that, “Wow, we have to take this seriously.
” And because it's such a new virus and we don't have vaccines or treatments, the only thing we can do is what's always been shown to be effective for what we call respiratory infectious diseases, and that's good uh, personal hygiene.
That's the constant handwashing.
Because that's how the virus gets transferred is by coming in contact with your hands and then if you touch your, let's say your eyes or your nose or your mouth, that's how it gets introduced into your body.
Good cough etiquette because, if you do cough and you're infected, that's how you spread the virus through respiratory droplets.
And then of course the famous social distancing.
And people ask me, “Okay, so where is this social distancing two meters comes from?” And I say, well, it sounds kind of gross but scientists have done experiments with special lighting et cetera looking at people, when they do have infections, coughing et cetera and then you can see with these sort of time lapse photographs how far the spray from respiratory droplets from someone's mouth actually can travel.
And it's been determined it can actually travel quite a distance, up to two meters.
And that's why two meters or six feet comes from, where okay if someone wasn't really, sort of uh, doing the best in terms of cough etiquette, like coughing into their sleeve or into a tissue paper, then definitely by keeping a distance of two meters and if someone were to cough, you would be fairly safe to not get exposed to their respiratory droplets.
So that's the key message, and as I said, it's something that I think everyone needs to take seriously because that's only, I say, measures we have: the social distancing and the good hygiene et cetera, while obviously our scientists and researchers around the world are furiously working to try and develop treatments and a vaccine against this virus.
Ben: So I wonder then if you could clarify, I think there's still this conception or misconception out there that this is like an old people disease and that really it's only elderly populations that are at risk.
I think in Canada we've heard a lot about elderly populations in these nursing homes and how that's been a huge problem.
But I'm wondering if you could clarify to what extent we've seen younger Canadians who have both gotten sick or required hospitalization.
Njoo: Well, that's a very good point because, as I said before, everyone's equally susceptible to becoming infected.
In terms of who actually has a higher chance of becoming quite sick and needing hospitalization, it is true, if you look at the statistics that older people, but also I would say anyone with what we call an underlying medical condition, if you've got some condition where your immune system isn't working as well as it could or should be, then obviously you would have a greater chance of what we call having complications if you were to become infected.
But what's, I think, interesting about this virus is that it really doesn't discriminate.
Many young people, I've seen stories young people in good health, even athletes who exercise regularly et cetera, you know, good cardiovascular capacity, they've been hit quite hard, so it's sometimes something you can't always predict because some people, the way their body reacts to a virus may be completely different.
It has nothing to do with their quote, what we call prior health condition or medical condition.
And so, I would say that there's actually about I would say 30% of all of our cases are actually under the age of 40.
So that's quite a significant percentage of people overall who have the infection.
The other part I think that's kind of scary, is that I would call this a very sneaky virus.
In some ways, you know, some viruses like you see in the movies, you know, are so deadly that everyone who comes in contact with it ends up dying.
So it's easy to look at the trail and go, “Oh yeah, so-and-so was in touch with so-and-so because look at 'em.
They all ended up dying.
Njoo: But what's happening here-(Cristine: Yeah, I saw Contagion.
Njoo: Sorry? Cristine: I saw Contagion.
It's one of my favourite films, by the way.
But in this case, what is happening is that there are some people, many people actually, might have what we call mild infection.
Maybe just a bit of a runny nose and cough, not even be aware they have COVID-19.
And that's the scary part because they unknowingly have obviously passed it on to others, who then might be the ones at risk of developing more serious complications.
And that's why this virus has really spread so rapidly, I would say.
Because of this element where individuals who might have mild symptoms and not really be aware and only maybe in hindsight recognize “Oh, I probably had COVID-19” have passed it on to others.
And so I think it would be really sad, and it has happened where, for example, maybe younger people or folks who maybe haven't really suffered from infection have then gone to visit, for example, their grandmother in a long-term care facility and that's how, in many cases here in Canada, it got introduced in terms of those, what we call high risk settings where a lot of older folks who obviously then would be at more serious risk of getting complications have become infected.
And in those settings it's challenging, you know? There are a lot of people living, sometimes more than two to a room et cetera.
The personnel also having to deal with multiple residents.
You can see there's been quite a few outbreaks in what we call long-term care facilities.
Ben: And I'm also wondering about the sort of secondary effects in terms of there's going to be a lot of young people out there who probably won't get the virus or be infected but this could very likely become the defining moment of their childhood.
Maybe they were supposed to graduate high school and they weren't at school anymore.
Or (Cristine: Or prom) they're just leaving university and they should be entering the job market.
I guess I'm wondering to what extent from a public health expert– public health perspective you consider or could offer any advice or insight or perhaps even resources for people who might be feeling the mental health consequences and not just the physical health consequences of this social or physical distancing.
Njoo: Yeah, first thing I would say that Yeah, even at a personal level, I can appreciate that because I do a bit of a shout out at my second son who is actually due to graduate from engineering from university and certainly his graduation ceremony compared to his brother that's certainly not going to happen the same way Who knows what's going to happen in the future.
So I certainly recognize that for a lot of young people, milestones in their life that they might have anticipated, the prom and so on, aren't going to happen in the way that they would have happened without COVID-19.
I think at the end of the day, I think what all people recognize is the most important things really in life are not money or things like that, material things, it's really it's really your health and family and friends.
So I think in my sort of personal view, that's what we need to focus on.
So the first one in terms of your health, as you were mentioning, in my mind, when I look at health I think of not just our physical health, there's also mental health and spiritual well-being.
And so, for the mental health, it's not just mental health per se, but how it relates to the other two aspects.
So, there are a lot of resources out there.
I think many people might be feeling sort of isolated, lonely.
Certainly I would say the Government of Canada we have a nice app of COVID-19.
There's lots of resources you can tap into on the app in terms of finding connections, wellness portals how to connect to other people, people you can talk to, et cetera.
There's lots of resources I think also on the internet in terms of looking on our website but also other, I would say, trusted sites in terms of looking at resources I would say even in your own community I think many local governments and other sectors are looking for ways to reach out to their clientele or populations and individuals in need.
So, on the mental health side, that's in terms of resources that people can avail themselves of.
I think also for mental health, in terms of just trying to keep yourself sharp, there's lots of great things on the internet.
You know, I look at YouTube videos, taking cooking lessons, learning another language, you know, playing games, et cetera.
Those all are kind of things that you can keep yourself sharp mentally and of course, physically, you can also then do exercises, do some yoga et cetera, looking at various things on the internet.
So, I think there's lots out there I think people certainly should take advantage of that.
And as I mentioned before, besides obviously your mental health, and physical well-being personally, in terms of your health, reach out to your family and friends in terms of having maybe a regular sort of get-together virtually over coffee What's kind of interesting is that, even for myself, I find that because of this, in some ways, life has slowed down for a lot of people.
So, I can tell you I have one brother who actually lives in Europe, he lives in Paris, and because of the time zone difference, normally I wouldn't really have a chance to chat with him.
Everyone is so busy running around with their lives but because he's sort of in isolation in Paris, they're sort of locked down as well, and the same here in Canada, we actually made a point to do a virtual Easter so we got together a three- four-way call with my sons in Montreal my daughter in Ottawa my wife and myself here in Ottawa then my brother and his family in Paris We had a great chat over Easter.
So I think that's so important.
And of course, beyond family I think connecting with friends in terms of, you know, looking at doing a virtual book club, a whole bunch of different things people can think of.
I've been impressed by the creativity shown on the internet in terms of people putting various things out there.
Ben: I think we're just old enough to remember life before the internet, so I couldn't imagine going through this without having that resource and that way of still connecting to people.
Cristine: And yeah, you're right.
It's like now, given the times, we don't have to make time to connect, we have the time to connect.
So we should kind of use that to our advantage So I think the question at the top of a lot of people's mind is how long should we expect this to last and can we reasonably expect some of these social distancing measures to be lifted? Now rather than asking you for a specific date, which I know isn't reasonable, I'm more curious about what sort of data points or what key metrics do you want to see from a public health perspective before the Canadian government is actually in a position to decide whether or not we can relax physical distancing measures? Dr.
Njoo: Well, you've heard the famous expression of “flattening the curve.
” So before we talk about flattening the curve, there's something- it's interesting I find a lot of people are now becoming, I think in a good way, amateur epidemiologists.
Everyone understands what epidemiology is or at least some of the basics and in terms of what we call the epidemic curve.
I'm not sure if I have a slide here but essentially what you do is you look at a graph.
So the vertical axis and your sort of horizontal axis Along the vertical axis, what you would do is plot the number of cases and then across the horizontal axis it is over time, usually on a daily basis So you can say okay, on this day there were 20 cases, and then the next day there was 30 cases and you keep plotting that over time.
So that ends up being a bit of a curve.
And of course with this outbreak, at the beginning there were very few cases in Canada, and of course, the cases kept going up and up and up and up and up.
Now, everyone's holding their breath and because we've now put in all these good public health measures and Canadians by in large have been great in terms of sacrificing a lot in their lives in terms of staying at home and social distancing and so on, we're actually starting to see the number of cases remaining stable or even in some cases, going up and down a bit.
But certainly not increasing very, I would say, exponentially as they were in the early part of the outbreak.
So As a minimum, I would say we're starting to quote, “bend the curve” And so, it remains to be seen if we're actually going to be flattening the curve.
And what's really interesting is that you don't even know if you've actually on the down side, if you passed the peak until you're actually passed the peak, right? Because if the cases are there you have to actually look at least a few days of data to see if the trend of cases going down actually is there for quite a period of time to actually say “Aha! The peak of cases happened X number of days ago.
” So that's what everyone in Canada is looking at but I wouldn't say it's looking at the national picture At the end of the day, it's really what's happening in individual provinces and territories And even in your own city or region because Canada's a big country, and what's happening in one part of the country on the west coast of British Columbia might be a totally different reality compared to Quebec.
So, the other part also to note is that the data we're seeing, there's always a time delay.
When you think about it, it's kind of interesting to think about because of the incubation period of the virus.
And we all know now if you get exposed to the virus It could take up to 2 weeks before you actually develop symptoms So let's say you develop symptoms after 10 days or so, you feel kind of crappy, okay A few days, okay, this is more than just a cold You go to see a doctor, by the time you get a laboratory test it goes to the laboratory, the results come back That could easily be 2-3 weeks, so actually when you look at the epidemic curve from today, it's actually the result of what people have done up to two to three weeks ago.
So that's why if you look at the curve now, and say “Oh wow, we're doing well”, you can't let go because You won't see the results of what you and everyone else is doing in the country hopefully in terms of keeping at it until two to three weeks down the road.
So in terms of when the government or at a local level or a national level decides “Okay, looks like the curve is starting to flatten out, maybe we can start loosening things, I think we all need to do this very, as you say, prudently and with a lot of caution, and look at what are some of the things that maybe we've seen in other countries now as they start to open up certain businesses, schools and so on See how they're doing it, and then learn from them.
We're a bit behind some of the countries in Europe and Asia and I think we can learn from their experience And I think overall, everyone's on the same side.
We're not going to do an on-off switch and say “Okay, we're all gonna open everything all at the same time but maybe stepwise.
Maybe especially with our summer, look at a few things like what kind of outdoor activities might be reasonable in terms of social distancing I could think of for example, for myself, I love to hike Maybe hiking with social distancing in our beautiful outdoor parks and so on might be something to consider, that might be one of the things that might be open first.
So that's sort of a bit of a short maybe a long answer to your question.
Ben: No, it's detailed, thank you.
Cristine: Rely on the data, basically, and(Dr.
Njoo: Rely of the data, for sure.
) Cristine: we're not in the clear until we're in the clear.
Ben: And even when let's say, we did, a few months from now, relax some physical distancing measures, I imagine it would be very important to continue testing to make sure there isn't a spike after the fact.
And actually, we had a question about testing more broadly as well.
Right now, we're kind of under the impression, I mean correct us- correct me if I'm wrong but the testing seems to be mostly limited to people who are either symptomatic or who have reason to believe they came into contact with someone who had the virus Is there any thought to expanding testing more broadly to the Canadian public and what is the barrier to doing that if we wanted to? Dr.
Njoo: That's a very good question.
I would say to the first part of your question that you're right.
If we start to relax the measures or say public health measures and hopefully monitor one of the key things we have to have in place is as I mentioned earlier is a good surveillance system and lab testing to be able to detect, so if let's say for example, things go sideways and maybe we're getting more cases we have to be sort of, as a country, or a region, be able to rapidly detect if there are little outbreaks happening and get right on in terms of isolating the cases, doing the contact tracing, et cetera, so you're right.
Surveillance and lab testing is key.
In terms of lab testing, that's a very interesting area to discuss because, you're right certainly the priority, I think most people can appreciate it, is that obviously if people are sick with symptoms especially in high-risk settings, for example, you know, long term care facility or in hospital et cetera, if you're a worker or you're a patient, those people need to be tested.
So the question comes, why don't we just test everybody? Well the thing is that we look at the test itself it also depends on what we call your viral load So first of all, there could be people who might actually have been infected, but remember we talked about the incubation period right? It could be up to two weeks before you actually develop symptoms.
Usually it's about a week or so.
So let's say you're early, you actually were exposed you do have the virus, but you're still in your incubation period and you feel perfectly fine.
If I were or if you were to get a laboratory test what might well happen is that you get a negative result.
because your body is still- the virus is still replicating but not to the point there is enough virus to actually make the test turn positive So you might get this false assurance of “Oh! I'm negative I don't have COVID-19”, but you actually do and then four to five days later, you actually then develop the symptoms and if we were to do a test then, you would turn out positive.
So you can see that's the tricky part where you have to do the timing of the test at the right time when you have the biggest chance of actually getting a positive result It doesn't make any sense to test everybody in Canada because you'll get a lot of what you call false negative results, and sort of wasted resources for people who might then think, “Okay, that's fine I got a negative test result” and then later on they get it And of course the other part is that even if you have a test result that's negative and everything's good that doesn't clear you.
It just means that point in time you haven't been exposed to the virus, but if you suddenly go running around and being in contact with lots of other people and so on you might well be exposed to the virus and still get infected.
Cristine: It's not necessarily a marker of immunity or some kind of fast pass to go join the world as normal again.
Njoo: Right, That's the one kind of test that we're doing right now, which is called you know, not to get too technical, is called PCR molecular testing based on sort of the genome sequence of the virus and what we're also developing now are other types of tests such as what we call, hopefully in the near future introducing, point of care.
So rather than having to take a sample from the patient, shipping it to the laboratory, and that obviously is, I think is more of a challenge for northern isolated communities where they don't have their own laboratories they have to send to a laboratory down south.
A so called Point of Care where, you know, maybe a machine that's mobile you can bring it up north and you can take a sample then put it in the machine and get a result in a very short period of time.
That's what we're aiming for that hopefully will be coming out shortly with all of the research et cetera going on in a short period of time.
Then I think as you alluded to, another type of test down the road is what we call serological testing which doesn't look at the virus sequence or genetic sequence more about looking at what type of antibodies people have And so if you've actually been infected, your body has an immune response, and you'll develop antibodies.
And this other type of laboratory test might also then detect if you've had infection and now developed antibodies The question then is are these people immune? That's still evolving and the science is not clear.
Most infections you might think, “Okay once you've got a certain viral disease, you've got immunity for life”, but this particular virus, pretty sneaky, and it's not sure that if you do have immunity, how long that lasts for.
So those are all things, as they say, in place as we continue to study and learn more about this virus.
Cristine: So we don’t know that yet?Dr Njoo: No, at this point, we’re still developing the tests.
But in terms of the immunity, how long that lasts for and so on, we’re also looking to experiences of other countries, but at this point, we don't have enough evidence to be clear and state categorically “Yes, everyone’s been infected has immunity and is life long.
” Certainly not there yet.
Cristine: Yeah, a lot of this is very scary and definitely anxiety-inducing, and the fact that there are so many unanswered questions.
And we've been hearing from public health experts lately a lot about how things just are not going to go back to normal after this, and that there's going to be a new normal.
What do you think that new normal looks like? And I'm thinking of the way people gather like concerts, or going to school, or office places where there's more than, you know, twenty people in a room.
Njoo: Wow, I don’t know—that’s a good question.
I would think, just from different perspectives I would say one of the things, certainly, we’ve seen is that for businesses, even governments, how we work because we have the technological tools people can work virtually so this so-called.
sort of the, the actual physical building where everyone has to go everyday you know, commute to, and then, you know, work at their desk, and then hang around the water cooler.
I think we'll be seeing less and less of that, and people will be probably working in terms of, hopefully still having that connectivity and that social aspect, which I think is important.
I think you'll see more and more of that in terms of how businesses have their employees work.
So that's one thing.
I think, in terms of hopefully down the road, if COVID-19 really isn't a public health issue, I think we will always need a bit of the social interaction.
I think we are social beings, and I don't think you can have concerts and so on, and there's no one there and you're only watching it online.
This is for here and now but who knows down the road.
But certainly one of the other things I'm seeing now — it's interesting, it's more of a cultural thing is that, in Asia, it's always been sort of normal practice, I can call it, maybe a sign of respect that if you have a cold or infection and so on, that you wear a face covering.
Not necessarily a medical mask, like the actual medical mask for health care workers and the front-line essential workers, but for the average person, if you have a cold et cetera and you're going out in public, you wear a face covering or a non-medical mask.
And that's always been a part of the culture in Asia.
But you can see here it's coming over to Europe and North America because there is some evidence to show that some people who have maybe very mild symptoms, pre-symptomatic et cetera, would also be contagious to others.
So by wearing a so-called face covering or non-medical mask, it's not about you necessarily protecting yourself against others, but you actually taking the initiative and respect to others by protecting them, by wearing the face covering.
So should you, in anyway have a chance of transmitting the virus, you don't do that.
So one of the things I can see maybe over time, becomes part of the norm here as well in terms of part of our normal thinking in terms of culture.
Plus, I think also I think more and more people just know the proper cough etiquette now and hand washing and so on Hopefully those things stay in place even after this COVID-19 pandemic is over.
Cristine: Yeah maybe no more shaking hands when we meet each other anymore.
Dr Njoo: We'll see Ben: I know we’re running really tight on time, we're short, so maybe we’ll ask one last question to end on sort of a lighter note.
Ben: We know you’re very busy.
We heard your schedule at the outset.
But for those of us who are stuck at home and doing our best to maintain physical distancing and respecting this quarantine, could you recommend any binge-worthy TV shows or YouTube channels we can watch? Dr.
Njoo: Oh I’m going to date myself- Cristine: Who are you subscribed to? Dr.
Njoo: Well like I say, things that I’ve binged on in the past— all my friends, my family will laugh— you know, if people haven’t seen it certainly I binged on Breaking Bad, so for people who haven't seen that it’s a great series.
Game of Thrones.
I think as you mentioned earlier, some of the films, the outbreak type films being Contagion or even the older one, I’m dating myself — Outbreak, a similar type of film, I think are quite interesting and quite realistic.
Same with I think Pandemic which is on Netflix.
So those are the kinds of things I like to watch.
Concerts of music videos.
I actually did have time to see the whole thing, but I did see a concert by all of these artists for the Global Citizen event that was put on this past weekend.
So that way I can use my time most efficiently.
Cristine: What’s your favourite movie about viruses? Dr.
Njoo: I’ll still have to say it’s Contagion.
Contagion, I think, is pretty good because I can actually relate to the characters, the epidemiologists, et cetera.
Plus also, I can attest where they actually filmed it, I can actually say yeah that actually is the emergency room at the CDC.
I've been there WHO and so on.
So yeah, they used real sites or rooms in buildings that I've been in with my international workCristine: So we can do research just by watching that movie.
Njoo: Yeah in some ways, I think the key message to me, there's a bit of an ecological/environmental message about the interplay between man and the environment because we talk about zoonotic diseases which transfer between humans and animals vice versa Cristine: And the R0.
I learned the R0Dr.
Njoo: R0, definitely, yes.
Cristine: I learned something.
Njoo: Lots of good stuff to learn.
Ben: Well we appreciate so much you making the time to talk to us.
We know how busy you are and how important your role is.
We just want to say thank you.
Cristine: Thank you.
Ben: We see you everyday on TV.
And thank you and also to the broader health care community.
Uh yeah just thank you so much to everyone doing their best to help us out right now.
The least we can do is stay home and do our best not to help spread this.
Njoo: It's been a pleasure.
Cristine: Thank you so much.
Cristine: I hope you enjoyed the podcast Dr.
Ben: Thank you so much Dr.
Njoo: Okay, byebye.
Ben: Take care.
Cristine: Thanks, byeBen: Bye Cristine: Well, that was fun.
We interviewed an actual professional.
That was our first guest on the podcast ever and it's like the Deputy Chief of Health of Canada.
Ben: Yeah, if you had asked me two months ago who our first podcast guest would've been, I wouldn't have predicted Cristine: I would've said like, Threadbanger, but nope it's Dr.
Ben: Yeah, we really should you know, show our appreciation for Dr.
Njoo and his staff for making this possible.
And also, our contacts at YouTube in the PR department: Maria and then our main man, Francis, always looking out for us.
Cristine: Thank you YouTube and the Public Health Agency of Canada for being willing to even entertain the idea of having one of their employees come on our YouTube podcast, right? That's a big step so I really appreciate it.
Ben: It's important that governments recognize a lot of people our age don't pay for cable anymore.
They're not watching television, right? So yeah I think there's an important point in that a lot of people watching this are probably not going to be watching the daily press conferences being streamed on CPAC or CBC or public television, right? Cristine: I'll just clarify it wasn't our day jobs that got us this hook up.
It wasn't through that government.
It was uh, it was YouTube who asked us.
I didn't even have the chance to sip my tea yet, I was so interested in Dr.
Ben: He gave very detailed answers, we didn't even get to all the questions.
Cristine: He's such a good speaker.
Ben: Yeah, he's done this before.
Ben: Yeah, so another question we were going to ask him but we didn't get the chance to is, is there anything he thinks we and the general public can do to support health care workers in this time.
Because they're risking so much, you know, they're risking so much to keep us safe, right.
And we've been thinking about that lately as well.
Cristine: Well we assume his answer would be stay home, and you know, follow the rules of physical distancing.
But Ben and I were thinking of what else we can do beyond that to actually give some assistance where we can because we are in the fortunate position to be able to.
So we've seen actually quite a few YouTubers I think step up and do some interesting initiatives to help support people in need.
So we had an idea- or we got this from someone else but we wanted to do something to both help support the food industry in our community and also health care workers, because a lot of restaurants right now are going through a really hard time profit margins are already very thin and all of a sudden, people are being told not to go to restaurants, right? So we had the idea to do something that could both support a few local restaurants but also help feed and take care of some of those front line health care workers that are keeping us safe right now.
So, starting Thursday April 23, we've reached out to three restaurants in Ottawa and we're going to set up a $3000 tab at those restaurants so that any health care practitioners, doctors, nurses, volunteers at testing facilities, they could come into those restaurants and until that tab runs out, they can get their order for free.
So the three restaurants are Burger N' Fries Forever in the Byward Market at 278 Dalhousie.
Cristine: Nom nom nom.
Ben: Thyme & Again.
They have locations on Carling Avenue and Wellington in the west end of Ottawa.
And Pure Kitchen; they have several locations across Ottawa.
Cristine: YeahhhBen: So I just wanted to say a big thank you to those places for being willing to do this, and we should say we kind of have selfish reasons for doing this as well.
We want to support those restaurants because we like those restaurantsCristine: We like them, cuz we like their food Ben: Pure Kitchen is a great place to get vegan food that actually tastes good.
Cristine: It is really good, like I love it.
And I usually eat chicken but you know, I'll eat at Pure Kitchen it's so good.
Ben: Thyme & Again is a great place It reminds me of like home cooking if your parent was actually a really good cook.
Cristine: And that one's, one of their location is near our work, so it kind of makes me a bit nostalgic (Ben: Yeah we would go there for lunch)Cristine: because we used to go there for lunch during work.
Ben: And just so there's a bit more of a guilty pleasure food on there, Burgers N' Fries we put that restaurant because I actually when to high school with one of the owners of the restaurant.
Cristine: And, fun fact: I'm going to spill your past again.
Six, seven, several years ago, before YouTube, you used to make ice cream sandwiches for Burgers N' Fries Forever in our kitchen slash their kitchen at one point.
Ben: No no, I would go to their kitchen.
Cristine: And you would do it all night.
You'd be there until like 4 o'clock in the morning.
Ben: Yeah, so when they first opened their burger joint at the original location on Bank Street, I was basically like an independent contractor who would come in and make like ice cream sandwiches, desserts for them.
Cristine: First you were a Donkey Kong top star, then you were an ice cream sandwich maker.
Ben: You know I was just seeing what I like doing, y'know.
Cristine: How come you didn't include that in our jobs podcast? Ben: Yeah I never talked about.
Cristine: Your ice cream making history Ben: It was more of a passion than a jobCristine: [laughing] Sure Ben: But also, I want to give credit to these restaurants not only for their willingness to do this, but all of them were already doing something to support our local community before we even reached out.
Cristine: Yeah good point.
We google'd it just to see like who to contact and then most of them already had something set up to help healthcare workers Ben: And I think that's a pretty amazing thing considering what position we know the restaurant industry is in.
To see that these places were already — Thyme & Again has been — They have a soup program where they've been helping feed vulnerable members of our community for a while now.
Pure Kitchen has been delivering brown bag lunches already to hospital workers and different health care facilities, and BFF, they're just reopening now but they've already announced that they're going to be donating all of their profits, if they have any, for the time being, to first responders.
So, Cristine: This is so exciting!Ben: This is a pretty amazing thing Cristine: Just for clarity, if you’re local here in Ottawa and you’re a health care worker and you would like some food from Burgers N' Fries Forever, Pure Kitchen or Thyme & Again, just say — just call them up and say you’re a health care worker and you want to take from the simplynailogical tab.
We only ask that if you’re a group or if it’s a larger order, please get in touch with them directly in advance and make some arrangements for that.
We don’t want—obviously we want to maintain physical distancing too, right? So it’s not like groups should be showing up but we also don’t want just show up and surprise them with giant orders.
Cristine: Yeah so maybe call in advance.
But yeah just, just take it off my tab you know.
Happy to support.
That’s really fun, we’ve never done that before.
Maybe we can go get some food too but you know, reserve it for the health care workersBen: Yeah, yeah, we’ll pay for it.
Cristine: We’ll make a separate tab for us.
[laughter] Ben: We’ll put details on the restaurants and the specific promotions and on how to claim it, and who's eligible down below and we’ll be posting some stuff on instagram about this too for details.
Cristine: And the YouTube video description box too yeah.
Ben: Well, Simply, I think that’s it.
Cristine: Yeah, I hope everyone’s doing okay.
I know this was kind of a heavy topic and maybe not that expected to see a public health official talk about, you know, safety of the virus on this channel, but I think it’s a good time to do this and we’re just really fortunate and excited to have that opportunity.
And you know, practicing interviewing people is something I should probably do.
Ben: I also think it was a cool opportunity to have more of a conversational exchange with the public health expert.
I think we’ve seen a lot of these people on television having these brief, you know, one minute targeted questions from these various established media sources.
But to actually just talk to Dr.
Njoo like he’s a human being and ask him what TV shows he likes and stuff, I think very much humanizes the response to this.
And also, I think we recognize there was an opportunity to ask some questions on behalf of some of the younger people who are probably watching this that probably aren’t necessarily being represented in terms of the traditional media questions being asked these people at press conferences.
So yeah, hopefully that was interesting.
We'll be back next week, next Taco Tuesday, with regularly scheduled program.
Cristine: Today is Taco Thursday, apologies for this slight delay.
But next week we'll be back to regular Taco Tuesday with a podcast on cats.
Cats! Yes! Ben: OkayCristine: I'm so excited! Ben: Alright, apologies to Jenna Marbles today, we were supposed to have her on(Cristine: Jenna?!) but she got bumped by Dr.
Cristine: Sorry, Jenna, we just had to have the doctor.
Ben: I know she was really busy, I think she has a basketball game tomorrow so she was already a bit tired.
Cristine: Ben! That was like two years ago, her basketball game.
Ben: Well, we'll have her on another time.
Thank you so much for watching everyone, hope you're doing well(Cristine: I hope everyone's doing well.
) Ben: Stay safe, Cristine: JinxBen: Wash your hands Cough into your elbow.
Do all those things.
Cristine: Practice physical distancing, which isn't necessarily social distancing because you can go on a computer FaceTime a friend.
Do a little TikTok Ben: Do a little TikTok?Cristine: Do a little TikTok.
[laughing] Ben: Alright, keep on TikTok-ing everybody.
We'll see y'all later.
Cristine: Thanks so much for watching.
We'll see y'all later, bye!Ben: Bye [Outro music].