LETTERS: Ability to contain COVID-19 depends on our response

We need full engagement from our political leadership so there are no missed opportunities to contain the coronavirus. Small mistakes will have big consequences. We cannot afford to make mistakes.

We need to remain fluid to situations as they present themselves, even if it means changing course on the current COVID-19 plan. We do not want to look back and ask what went wrong. We have an ever decreasing window of opportunity to look at other cities and countries to see what they did right, what they did wrong, and hopefully learn from their victories and sadly, their tragedies.

Italy has launched an urgent plan to restrict the movement of 60 million people – an unprecedented mandatory lock down. The coordinator of the Lombardy Region Crisis Unit said, “We are doing everything we can, but the contagions must be stopped. The only way is prevention.”

Their healthcare system is completely overwhelmed, they are no longer able to guarantee response times to emergencies such as heart attacks.

We have some tough decisions ahead. We, in Victoria live on an island with limited health care resources and infrastructure. We cannot withstand a large scale outbreak of coronavirus. Try to imagine what it would look like if Victoria had 50 people requiring hospitalized quarantine, or 75 or 100.

This letter is not coming from a place of fear or panic. I am asking for a call to action.

As the World Health Organization has cautioned, “Every country should urgently take all necessary measures to slow further spread and to protect health systems from becoming overwhelmed with seriously ill COVID-19 patients.”

We can’t be so smug to think “Italy” can’t happen to Canada. We must be realistic. This is not a test. This is not the time to bury our heads in the sand. Massive events worth hundreds of millions of dollars to their respective cities are being cancelled daily. This is happening.

Our ability to contain COVID-19 is entirely dependent on how we respond. We must put the health and safety of citizens above all.

We must act expeditiously. Timing matters immensely. There is no advantage to being late. Remember Italy.

Gloria Bartholomew


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