Thunder Bay

Thunder Bay doctor calls for Canada-U.S. border to remain closed until COVID-19 vaccine is available

The doctor heading up the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre’s COVID-19 response is warning against opening the Canadian-U.S. border too soon.

Dr. Stewart Kennedy says opening border too early could bring second wave of virus to region

Dr. Stewart Kennedy is heading the COVID-19 response at the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre. (Nicole Ireland/CBC)

The doctor heading up the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre's COVID-19 response is warning against opening the Canada-U.S. border too soon.

"I would keep our borders closed until we get a vaccine," Dr. Stewart Kennedy said. "We really need to prevent the virus getting back to Thunder Bay, northwestern Ontario, to our vulnerable population."

"Right now, many people in the United States are not taking those precautions as we are here in Canada," he said. "So, I would keep that border closed as long as possible."

The Canadian government announced this week that measures restricting non-essential travel across the Canada-U.S. border will remain in place until at least June 21.

Commercial traffic, and essential workers, can still cross the border.

Kennedy said efforts to prevent COVID-19 from spreading at the Thunder Bay hospital, and at long-term care homes, have been successful.

However, the virus will likely be an ongoing concern, even after a vaccine is developed, he said.

"We're going to live with this for quite a long time," he said. "I think we're going to be living like this like we live with influenza - every year."

"We'll get a yearly shot for this Coronavirus mixed in with our flu shot at some point in time."

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