Frustration over COVID-19 has public taking it out on healthcare workers, says Peel's top doctor

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The community is turning its anger over COVID-19 restrictions against Peel Region health officials and other frontline workers, says the Medical Officer of Health (MOH).

In a presentation to Peel councillors today, Dr. Lawrence Loh said members of the public are taking out their frustration against those who are trying to keep the community safe, adding the anger is misdirected.

He said it’s unfortunate how some in the community are “losing sight that all of us have been challenged by these unusual circumstances.” Those enforcing the rules are not the enemy, he said; COVID-19 is.

“I know our essential workers face this every day simply by virtue of going to work and being in service of our needs,” Dr. Loh said in his report to councillors. “Kindness and charity seem to be increasingly in short supply this holiday season.”

He said that public health teams working on the phones and conducting contract tracing are experiencing more agitated behaviour from the community as lockdown measures drag on.

“I raise it today because I fear it will only grow worse as this pandemic continues,” he said. “I only get a fraction of it by email but I know our staff are dealing with many callers, many cases that are angry and aggressive and sometimes bordering on abusive.”

He said it has been difficult for health officials and frontline workers to cope with because they have been dealing with the virus for almost a year and that they are doing tremendous work under difficult circumstances.

He urged the public to show more patience and kindness and to support all healthcare workers in the days ahead.

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