Windsor-Essex medical officer of health Dr. Wajid Ahmed refused at Friday's daily briefing to directly address participants of a planned protest against COVID restrictions, instead choosing to speak more broadly about his concerns and disappointment regarding the demonstration.
"[The participants] are lying. They are misquoting any of those information and they do not have any ability to understand anything," he said in response to a question about the planned Sunday protest.
"But they pretend that they know something that nobody else knows and they are probably the smartest people in the world because they do not understand or they do not listen to an expert or a public health professional who has got training."
The planned Sunday march will end at the office of the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit on Ouellette Avenue. According to the event's Facebook page, participants will be showing their opposition to a number of measures aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19, including mandatory masking and shutdowns. The page has 70 people listed as "going" to the event.
"All I can tell you is it's events like these — that's what puts everyone at risk," Ahmed said.
He added that the misinformation propagated by anti-COVID restrictions protests causes harm that stretches beyond the events themselves.
"They are doing a complete disservice to the entire community by causing ... any kind of confusion or chaos, and those confusion and chaos results in people not following those public health measures."
Ahmed said he wanted to say more, but stopped himself.
WECHU CEO Theresa Marentette said that no health unit personnel would be in the building during the protest.
COVID numbers in the region
It was a heated moment in an otherwise straightforward briefing, as health unit officials reported just one new case in Windsor-Essex.
The region has now had 2,781 confirmed cases, 30 of which are active. Three people are in hospital and there have been 76 deaths.
Two workplaces are experiencing an outbreak — A food and beverage workplace in Kingsville and a construction workplace in Lakeshore. As of Friday a agricultural workplace in Kingsville is no longer experiencing an outbreak. No long-term care homes are in outbreak.
Chatham-Kent has had 385 cases, 14 of which are active, with three deaths at last update.
Sarnia-Lambton has had 366 cases, eight of which are active, with 25 deaths at last update.