Today is Sunday, March 15, 2020.
Today, in Italy, total deaths from COVID-19 rose from 1,441 to 1,809.
I echo Dr Bitton’s concerns here:
“We are only about 11 days behind Italy and generally on track to repeat what is unfortunately happening there and throughout much of the rest of Europe very soon.”
BC’s provincial health officer Dr Bonnie Henry made some good initial recommendations. These included “wash your hands regularly and avoid touching your face.” She’s also issued a public health order restricting events over
250 50 people. But these guidelines aren’t enough.
She, and the federal officials, need to issue stricter health orders: they need to tell people to stay home.
The AP has reported that the recent rise in deaths in Italy is because they did not implement strict enough restrictions, soon enough:
“The death toll rose by 175. Authorities had predicted that Italy would still see a jump in cases despite a national lockdown. They cited irresponsible behavior by many citizens, who despite the earlier warnings not to gather in large numbers, headed to beaches or ski resorts, and hung out together in town squares, especially after the closure of schools.”
Just two days ago, Dr Bonnie Henry was encouraging people to go skiing:
“This virus does not transmit when people are outdoors, so go outside and play with your family, go up to our ski hills, go up to Whistler.”
Yesterday, Whistler wisely suspended operations (Silverstar followed suit).
If we don’t want to replicate Italy’s mistakes, our leaders need to be swift and severe. Dr Bitton’s recommendation is:
“We must move to pandemic mitigation through widespread, uncomfortable, and comprehensive social distancing. That means not only shutting down schools, work (as much as possible), group gatherings, and public events, but also making daily choices to stay away from each other as much as possible.”
We need to realize that two weeks ago, Italians were sanguine like us. They were thinking and acting like the coronavirus was no big deal:
All those people “just chilling” and not taking the threat seriously is what’s lead to the death rates we see today:
Again, Canada is only about 11 days behind Italy:
“People will be allowed to leave their homes only to buy food and medicine, commute to work, go to hospitals and banks, or take trips related to the care of the young and the elderly. All schools and universities were closed, along with restaurants, bars, hotels and other non-essential retail businesses.”
If BC and Canadian health officials don’t act quickly, with extreme measures, we will find ourselves exactly where Italy is today. Our epidemic trajectory is on the same track as every other country, except for South Korea’s.
I’ll leave with these words from Professor Scott Galloway:
“[Leaders] hesitate to overcorrect because at the time of the decision it seems excessive. It doesn’t in retrospect. You MUST overcorrect.”
Stay safe, stay healthy, and whenever possible, stay home. These next few weeks (before we know how many are actually infected) are key.