The ongoing coronavirus pandemic is leaving collateral damage in its wake, as health care providers in Canada warn that the pandemic will exacerbate the spread of sexually-transmitted infections (STI) once restrictions are eased.
As reported by Politico, lockdown orders put in place by the government to stem the spread of the coronavirus has resulted in people losing access to clinics and prevention, testing, and treatment options. Clinics themselves have either had to cut down on services or have their labs be overwhelmed by COVID-19 tests instead.
Saskatoon Sexual Health executive director, Heather Hale, says that the restrictions brought about by the coronavirus pandemic have ended up amplifying other problems that they were already experiencing beforehand, such as abortion access and access to condoms.
As Canada prepares to ease restrictions, Hale worries that people who have been isolating might seek out even more sexual encounters with different partners, increasing STI risk at a time when healthcare providers are already swamped by the concerns brought about by the global coronavirus pandemic. The fact that nine out of 10 provinces in Canada were already experiencing an STI outbreak even before the coronavirus pandemic does not help out as well.
Further complicating the situation is the fact that Canada and other countries in the world may experience a shortage of condoms. This is because the factory and manufacturing closures brought about by the global coronavirus pandemic in other countries may result in a slowdown in condom production.
While Canada does not have a condom shortage just yet, the same cannot be said in the upcoming months. In fact, news of a possible shortage pushed Canadians to stock up on condoms during the second and third week of March, before the nationwide lockdown was announced.
Oxfam Canada’s policy lead on sexual and reproductive rights, Dana Stefov, says a condom shortage is definitely something that officials should look at and plan for.
“There is a real risk and threat that some of the supply chains are going to be broken and that there might be more stockouts and shortages in the months ahead,” she said.