We need to get smarter in our approach to COVID-19 pandemic

coronaSaskatchewan Premier Scott Moe’s announcement earlier this week that his province would begin opening up by the end of the month offered Canadians a glimmer of hope that we will eventually be able to put the pandemic behind us.

The premier said the opening will come in phases and there will still be advisories about large gatherings.

Fortunately, Saskatchewan is in an enviable position. It has recorded a mere four deaths from the SARS-CoV-2 virus and has been spared the worst of the pandemic’s effects.

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The same can’t be said for Quebec and Ontario. The virus has claimed the lives of 1,243 individuals in Quebec and 713 in Ontario. That makes up the vast majority of the deaths in Canada.

So it’s unlikely those two provinces will be opening up any time soon.

The thing is though is that when drill down into who is dying in Quebec and Ontario it is clear that the elderly are bearing the brunt of this disease.

In Quebec, for example, fully 70 per cent of the deaths attributed to the virus are the elderly confined to nursing home and other old age facilities.

In study after study, it’s become clear that while this disease is easily transmitted, people under the age of 60 and in relatively good health do not have symptoms that require hospitalization. This virus kills old people and those suffering from other illnesses.

One would think that armed with this knowledge, our public officials could devise strategies that protected those most at risk while allowing those least at risk to continue working.

Given the cost of the current approach – well in excess of $100 billion – we could have provided that protection for a fraction of what we’re spending now.

Yet most Western countries have approached the problem in the same way – lockdowns, isolation and only allowing essential work to continue.

Sweden chose to not follow the directives of the World Health Organization who is co-ordinating the fight against the virus and, interestingly enough, its mortality rates are considerably lower than other European countries such as Belgium and Italy, though higher than that of the United States and Canada despite not going into lockdown.

As for the rest of us, we cannot continue in lockdown mode for 18 to 24 months. It’s not feasible. Doctors are warning other diseases that are just as life threatening are getting short shrift because of the pandemic and people will die. Economists warn that a prolonged shut down will push us into a depression to rival that of the Great Depression.

Let’s always remember that all this death and destruction could have been avoided had China not tried to suppress news of the outbreak and had the WHO taken this virus seriously from the outset and advised an immediate quarantining of China.


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