Where are we going with all this?

It’s really hard to report on local news when there isn’t much of it happening. Instead, here’s some further idle speculation on our current situation.

Social Distancing:
Apparently it works. Even the most intellectually challenged are learning this important lesson.

Social (or physical) distancing keeps infections to a low level so that hospitals aren’t overwhelmed. When hospitals are swamped with patients, deaths increase considerably. We seem to be distancing quite well in our community (Lions Park soccer field excepted)

Most parts of the country also seem to be following the new rules. How effective are they? It depends on the degree of cooperation. According to the University of Sydney (Australia), 80% compliance seems to be the threshold at which new infections fall.

From Sydney Morning Herald (click to enlarge).

The shaded area represents a 91-day period of social distancing. According to the chart, infections will soar once the restrictions are lifted. Is there a better way to get through COVID-19 than by simply closing the country down?  Yes. Unlike Western countries, Taiwan leaned from the 2003 SARS epidemic and acted quickly once COVID-19 arrived. They started containment efforts in December 2019.

In this video, Taiwan’s approach is compared to that of Italy. Our own approach to the virus is more like Italy’s than Taiwan’s although our population may be younger and less family oriented.

Detecting, tracking and testing are important parts of Taiwan’s strategy.

Here in Toronto we’re still playing catch-up. On March 13th, as part of ongoing treatment I went to a large Toronto hospital. Visitors were allowed and there were no symptom checks or hand sanitizer at the entrance. When I returned on March 26th, visitors were banned and staff were stationed at the now limited entrances to ask patients about symptoms. They didn’t take my temperature. Masks were optional (I wore one).

It seems clear that containment measures are being introduced or tightened too slowly.

Another factor: we’re still in the early stages with stricter measures likely to come. We may end up with lockdown fatigue.  Compliance could then deteriorate until we go below the 80% threshold.

Then what?

If we adopt parts of the Taiwanese and South Korean approaches (it’s not too late), we can slow the spread indefinitely. It will require a level of enforcement and cooperation not seen here in a long time but the prize will be the saving of many more lives and the revival of our economy.

Here’s how South Korea flattened their curve.

Let’s hope our leaders can learn from other countries’ recent experience. Sadly we didn’t learn from our own back in 2003.

“The experience with SARS in Toronto indicates that this disease is entirely driven by exposure to infected individuals. Transmission occurred primarily within health care settings or in circumstances where close contacts occurred. The was spread by respiratory droplets in the great majority of cases, and some patients were more infectious than others. Ultimately, the strict adherence to precautions—and practice implementing them—was critical to the containment of SARS in Toronto and the restoration of safe conditions for hospital staff and patients.”

SARS: Lessons from Toronto Dr Donald E. Low. 2004

2 thoughts on “Where are we going with all this?”

  1. Maybe, many of us think,
    “..Hey, it’s not me, or my family. It’s the other guy!”


    While out on a long, solo walk in the neighbourhood yesterday, it really was pretty quite in every direction – except for that crazy wind!

    It was great, though. The musical ear buds were gently in place, and the rain had stopped. Perfect for an introvert recharging his batteries.

    After the better part of a couple of hours wandering, I was heading for home in the 5pm hour.

    I’m about to cross Elm Street at King and all of a sudden crossing in front of me was: a young couple walking their dog, and 6-8 paired off older maternal types, elbow to elbow and chatting away, while they strolled easily. (Pretty sure the heart rate wasn’t being elevated at that pace.)

    Anyway, I froze and waited for them to pass – not in fear, but disbelief.

    Clearly, the memo did not reach those nuns within the village.
    (No wait, they weren’t nuns – they’ve moved from Pine & Queen’s Dr.)

    Boy o’boy, that was a big, “one household” family group.

    And, don’t get me started on a neighbouring family whose home is under renovations – with trades people coming & going, daily. And, four generations of that same family (from an infant to octogenarians) visiting regularly, without seemingly a care in the world.

    Not yet, anyway.

    Warm, fuzzy & nicely immune, too.
    (Hey, OHIP can do that to you, right?)

    So, it’s not just those rule breaking soccer players down there in Lion’s Park “flattening the curve”, Sir Beckham.

    They’ve got company.

  2. Don’t forget to mention the line jumpers at the superstore. A man who was not initially rude when he reminded the lady the line was further back and she had to go to the end of the line. She started yelling at him, others came to his defence/agreement. Then she told him to “go home”. She stayed in line and staff weren’t around to catch the incident. The ignorant woman was over 60 and had her adult son (over35) with her who did nothing. He didn’t even seem embarrassed. Why are some people so entitled….

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