People used to make fun of preppers. That was before COVID-19 burst onto the scene.
Today Health Minister Patty Hajdu is encouraging Canadians to stockpile food and medication in their homes in case they or a loved one falls ill with the novel corona virus.
The minister told reporters a couple of days ago it’s good to be prepared just in case.
Hajdu is not saying to worry, just to be prepared.
Still, the minister’s advice ought to give us pause.
After all, the novel virus appears to be spreading rapidly in China and there are now hotspots in a number of other countries, including South Korea, Italy and Iran.
Therein lies the tale of course.
The first outbreak of the virus happened in Wuhan in early December. A Chinese doctor, Li Wenliang, had warned some of his medical-school colleagues about the virus on December 30, about three weeks after the outbreak started but shortly before the government officially acknowledged it.
Li had said that some patients at his hospital were quarantined with a respiratory illness that seemed like SARS. But he was reprimanded and silenced by the police in Wuhan and made to sign a letter that said he was “making false comments.”
Chinese officials were more worried about the public relations aspect of the disease than the actual disease itself.
It’s likely that other doctors knew about the virus before Li. He was an eye doctor and not someone in direct contact with patients in ICU. We’ll probably never know, because the Chinese have no transparency.
That’s why American health authorities have no faith in official Chinese data on the spread of the virus.
China’s dictatorship is more concerned with retaining power than in keeping a virus from spreading. Had it acted quickly in early December, the worse might have been avoided.
As it is, reports coming out of China paint a Hellish picture of death, starvation and mayhem.
China is not the only country that has public relations concerns.
Here in Canada, authorities were overly worried about whether the virus’ origins in Wuhan would see a rise in racism and avoidance of Chinese-Canadians.
Really? That was the main concern?
I was in T&T, a Chinese market in Calgary, at that time and all the clerks were wearing face masks and gloves, evidently worried that their patrons (mostly Chinese) might be harboring the virus.
T&T management are hardly racists. The precautions taken reflected the fact that the store’s clientele is likely to have visited China and may have come into contact with the virus.
That is also why a group of 23 Chinese-Canadian doctors is now urging that everyone returning from China enter a voluntary, 14-day quarantine.
Dr. Stanley Zheng, the Toronto family physician who drafted an open letter, says he believes “unequivocally” the federal government should make such isolation periods mandatory for all people arriving here from China and the world’s other COVID-19 “hot spots.” South Korea, Iran and Italy have also had significant outbreaks recently.
Equally good advice is to prepare for the worse. You never know what might happen.