OMA Spotlight on Health

Coronavirus Q&A Part 2 with Dr. Sohail Gandhi

April 03, 2020 Ontario Medical Association Season 1 Episode 14
OMA Spotlight on Health
Coronavirus Q&A Part 2 with Dr. Sohail Gandhi
OMA Spotlight on Health
Coronavirus Q&A Part 2 with Dr. Sohail Gandhi
Apr 03, 2020 Season 1 Episode 14
Ontario Medical Association

A second special episode answering patient’s questions about COVID-19 featuring Dr. Soahil Gandhi, OMA President 2019-2020 and a family medicine physician in Stayner, Ontario.

Show Notes Transcript

A second special episode answering patient’s questions about COVID-19 featuring Dr. Soahil Gandhi, OMA President 2019-2020 and a family medicine physician in Stayner, Ontario.

OMA Podcast Episode 14: Coronavirus Q&A with OMA President Dr. Sohail Gandhi


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Voice-over: In this podcast, the Ontario Medical Association looks at current health issues that are on everyone’s mind. Spotlight on Health gives you the straight talk. We’re Ontario’s doctors and your health matters to us. 


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Anne Marie Flanagan: I’m Anne Marie Flanagan, the Director of Earned and Social Media at the Ontario Medical Association.


Dr. Sohail Gandhi: I'm Dr. Sohail Gandhi, and I'm the president of the Ontario Medical Association. 


Anne Marie Flanagan: We’re here today to talk about some misinformation and misconceptions that people might have about social distancing or physical distancing we’re saying now, during this pandemic.


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Flanagan: Should kids be having playdates? Is this something parents should be allowing? 


Dr. Gandhi: They should not be having play dates. Unfortunately, right now, it is really, really important to keep your distance as much as possible from other people. As we all know, they have a tendency to get into things that they shouldn't get into, and they have a tendency to get into closer contact with things that we don't particularly want them to right now. 


So while I know it's quite disruptive for families, and I know it's hard at times, it's really important that we avoid playdates at this time. 


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Flanagan: What about playground facilities? We know we're encouraging people sometimes to go out for a walk; is it safe for children to play in a playground if there aren't any other children there?


Dr. Gandhi: And, it’s very unfortunate to say this, but at this point in time I would say that it's not. 


We know that the COVID-19 virus is spread by what’s called “droplet contacts.” They’re drops of fluid that are on hard surfaces, and the virus lives in these fluids. 


And so, unfortunately, unless the playground is disinfected—if your child touches one of the playground swings, or teeter-totters, or slides—they can get that virus on their hands and they can get that virus into their system. So I realize—I feel a bit like the Grinch here—but it's really not safe to do even that right now.


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Flanagan: So I think the overall message is: we’re really encouraging people to stay home as much as possible, is that correct?


Dr. Gandhi: 100 percent.


Flanagan: And what about going out to the grocery store, is that safe for people? Obviously, sometimes you maybe need to get out for food. 


Dr. Gandhi: If it's possible, and we recognize that it's not always possible, but if it is possible you should try and have your groceries delivered. Many grocery stores are doing that right now. 


If that is not possible for a variety of reasons, and I recognize that, then certainly you have to eat and you need to get groceries. But it's important, as much as you can, to keep your distance from other people in the store. 


That's why stores are now starting to limit the number of people in their buildings, which I think is a really proactive move that should be applauded. I think it's important to try and keep your distance in line, so don't be lined up one next to each other, try and keep six feet or two metres distance from each other. 


And when you get home—really important—to wash your hands for 20 seconds at least, with soap. You don't have to use a fancy alcohol wipe, just make sure you wash your hands properly with soap, and wash the surface of any hard boxes or containers that you get as well. 


Flanagan: And that’s particularly important because the virus lives on surfaces for some amount of time, is that correct? 


Dr. Gandhi: Yes that’s correct. At this time we are not certain exactly how long the virus will live on certain surfaces—and as soon as we know obviously we'll let people know—but we do know that the virus is a contact virus, which means it lives on surfaces and you touch it with your hands.


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Flanagan: The wording we used initially was social distancing, and now we're talking a little bit more about physical distancing and social connectedness. Do you have any recommendations on how people can stay connected with their friends and loved ones while keeping a physical distance?


Dr. Gandhi: Yes. You know, we live in a very technologically advanced country. We still have the ability to use technology, to do phone calls with video—so you can use FaceTime, or Skype, or any one of these technologies. It's really, really important to make sure that, even if you're stuck at home, you at least speak to other live human beings, if not try and connect with them through a video link of some sort.


We’re human beings, we’re social creatures, we need to be able to interact with other people for the sake of our own sanity. And this, it looks like it's going to be, unfortunately, a protracted period of time that we're going to have to undergo this physical distancing. So it's really, really important that we maintain contact with other human beings.


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Flanagan: The importance of people keeping a routine, even when their normal routine has been thrown out of whack a little bit; is that something you try and do yourself?


Dr. Gandhi: Yes, I think that’s absolutely essential. My situation is a little different because, as a physician, I'm considered an essential service. So I'm fortunate enough that, one way or another, I'm going to be interacting with other human beings. 


But for people who aren't in that situation, making sure that you've got a good daily routine—you get up at the same time every day, you go to bed at the same time every day, you do the same kind of activities that you normally would, as much as possible—are really important to keeping your sanity.


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Flanagan: One of the things we talked about, and one of your recommendations, is for people not to wear a mask unless they're sick. And we've had a lot of questions about why, and what that means. So I'm wondering if you could touch on that?


Dr. Gandhi: Well, the simplest reason is that they don't work. So why would you take a mask away from someone else who needs it, like a healthcare professional, and wear it when it doesn't work. And the reason that it doesn't work is because of the way the virus acts. 


The virus lives in what's called droplets, these are tiny little bits of fluid that are in your mouth, and your nose, and your lungs. And when you cough and sneeze, these droplets fly, about two metres at most, and they land on a surface. They do not float through the air for hours on end. 


And so, if they did float through air for hours on end, that’s where a mask might be helpful. But in this case, what they do is they land on a surface, you touch that surface with your hand, and that virus gets on your hand. 


And that is still not terribly dangerous. The virus cannot come through your skin. However, what happens is that when you touch your eyes, your nose, or your mouth, that's what provides an entry point into your body. 


So when you touch your eye, the virus can track in through the tear ducts. When you touch your nose, it goes up through your nostrils. When you touch your mouth, that goes in through your mouth, and then it gets into your system.


So it's more important to prevent the virus from getting in your system. And to do that, wash your hands for 20 seconds, with soap, so that you get your hands nice and clean, and disinfect your hands, and avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. 


And that's what works. Masks simply don't work with this particular virus, for the healthy person. 


There are many different kinds of masks, and the N95 masks—that most people talk about in the media, that you've heard about—there's actually a very particular process for putting that on. And, unless you’ve practiced it, I genuinely don't think you'll be able to do that properly.


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Flanagan: Is there anything in particular you would like to touch on that you're hearing that you'd like to combat, some of the rumours that you’ve heard online, about the coronavirus?


Dr. Gandhi: Boy, that's a tough question. And the reason it's a tough question is because I could go on for a long, long period of time. 


There's a lot of misinformation on the virus out there, and that's why it's really important, rather than listening to all these sites on social media, rather than listening to what your friends—who are well-intentioned, and… and I need to emphasize, for the most part, people are well-intentioned when they spread this, they want you to get better. And so, they're spreading information that they hear is in the hopes that we all stay safe. 


But the reality is—you need to go to an approved site like, which is a site that the Ontario Medical Association has put together for patients. And it explains all the things that the virus can do, and it has the best information for patients going forward. So please listen to that, and not some of the other sites out there. 


I have trouble keeping up with how the information changes. If physicians are having trouble keeping up, then it's going to be harder for the general public that, no offense intended, but there's just a lot of volume of information that’s coming through on this. And that just highlights the need to go to a trusted source for information.


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Flanagan: What is the most important piece of advice you would give to people right now?


Dr. Gandhi: Stay home. Stay home. Stay home.


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Voice-over: This podcast is brought to you by the Ontario Medical Association. It is produced and edited by Jodi Crawford Productions. This podcast is not intended to provide medical advice for specific situations and is for general educational purposes only. Please consult your doctor if you have symptoms or questions about your health.


For more information, please visit our website at


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