As Canadians we watched with empathy and concern as the coronavirus first swept through China then Europe abroad. Our concerns deepened as the World Health Organization officially deemed it a world health crisis then a Pandemic. Yet perhaps it never really hit home — until it did? Crossing our borders and infecting us here at home. Today it’s shadow looms large over our Country. Today there is no doubt — the virus is here!
The first day of spring in Canada arrived without much fanfare though usually a much welcomed event. The day after brought warm weather and from my window I could see the trees budding in anticipation of the changing season. Spring is traditionally a big deal here in southern Ontario looked forward to after a long cold Canadian winter. But not so much this year — This year is different.
Here in the city where I live, not far from Toronto in the southern region of Ontario — the coronavirus is changing everything! Society itself has begun to change. People are conforming to the ever increasing warnings our health experts speak of daily. Their news is increasingly dire and one can almost sense the tightly bound feelings of fear and panic rising in the public.
The government in cooperation with its provincial health affiliates have set up information hotlines that were overrun with public inquires about the virus in a matter of hours. More have since been added, yet wait times still persist due to the enormous flood of worried incoming calls.
The Canadian public it seems, has gone from curious, to concerned, to desperate for answers, all in a matter of just a few weeks.
GOVERNMENT IS STEPPING UP!
To their credit, our Government has been stepping up. With promises of monies to the dwindling work force as factories and workshops close or layoff or pare down their employees to skeleton crews. Their stepping up with increasing funds and relaxed restrictions for unemployment benefits, with new available funds for Canadians who are sick with the virus or are self-isolating. An emergency support benefit is available to people who lose their job or see a reduction in hours as a result of the downturn but don’t qualify for employment insurance.
As Canadians we must applaud our usually much criticized Government for stepping up, putting party differences aside and recognizing quickly then implementing measures to aid the public in this crisis. Not only with available increased funds but with their overall handling (so far) of this Countries needs in facing down the coronavirus. The wealth of information available online and during newscasts from Province Health care Ministers and World Health Organization leaders in itself is recommendable. Not to mention the Prime Ministers personal ever-day, daily updates.
This while the Government tackles an added problem of economic stagnation or even possible recession as more and more Canadian consumers stay at home to wait out the impending Pandemic crisis. Billions are being provided in the fight against this cause.
CLOSINGS AND RESTRICTIONS
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and US President Donald Trump announced the temporary shutdown of their countries’ shared border — the longest such border in the world. The border to be closed to all non-essential travel until further notice.
Here at Home — All eat in diners, restaurants even fast food places are now closed to sit in meals. Only take out is now allowed. Bars and Gyms, Libraries and museums are also closed, as is all sporting facilities and the leagues that once played there.
Schools, colleges and universities have been closed, places of worship closed or restricted in gatherings in fact any large gatherings of any kind are now strictly forbidden. St. Patrick’s day was hardly a mention, no bars open, no good cheer, no green beer.
Pharmacies and grocery stores remain open, but most now shortening their hours of operation in order to meet new sanitation protocols and to restock ever emptying shelves of hand sanitizers and chemical cleaners.
Installation of Plexiglas shields at cash registers are among new measures that Sobeys grocery stores are implementing to help protect customers and staff from the virus. And new social distancing protocols are in place for shoppers and at the cash register line-ups in most Canadian stores.
Some stores are even restricting their first hour of operation to seniors and those in care of to make sure they get first choice at what they may need in a newly overnight sanitized environment. Just one of many examples of Canadians taking care of each other during this health crisis.
Here in my city, shopping malls are still open for now. Yet they are becoming less and less visited, destined perhaps to also be ordered closed in time. Or perhaps doomed in becoming an eerie abandoned scene like in some “end of days” apocalypse movie.
THE THREAT IS REAL!
The streets and roads are less congested as more and more of us start heeding the government’s call to stay at home. If and when things get even more critical and “everyone” starts taking this warning to heart — perhaps scenes of a ghost town are not out of the question?
That of course, will not apply to our hospitals and health centers that will endure a rush of humanity seeking their help. The very rush that the recommendations of staying at home and self-isolating are trying to avoid. Yet in the end, this seems doomed to fail for too many of us have yet not heeded this request in earnest.
Too many of us have still not taken the provincial health expert’s warnings to heart. There are those who still refuse to just stay at home. Is this simply Human Nature? A false sense of invulnerability?
Or as in my case — a belief that there is still time before the dangers are real. That it’s not yet critical to worry in this way. But I found out differently soon enough!
I found out that — the dangers are real!
A retail store (Giant Tiger) I visited not 2 days ago, has closed its doors. The reason — one of the clerks working there was confirmed coronavirus positive.
Yet this doesn’t necessarily mean that I’ve become infected. Although I suppose it does increase the possibility. However, I have been taking recommended precautions. I’ve been religiously sanitizing my hands when out, then immediately washing them vigorously on return. I’ve been keeping my hands away from my face when out and sanitizing in-house what ever I’ve touched.
Will this of been enough in my case to protect me? I suppose now, only time will tell.
Estimate incubation of coronavirus is between one and 14 days. Most people start showing symptoms about five days after becoming infected, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
So I am now in voluntary self-isolation. Waiting — fingers crossed.
My message is obvious — Heed the Health Organization’s requests and heed them now. There is no time left to feel secure. It only takes one incident to put your health at risk. Don’t wait for proof that your health is at risk by exposing yourself to one more trip outside. One that is not, absolutely needed!
These are unprecedented times for all Canadians, where literally tens of millions of us are being asked to step up in co-operation in the face of this coronavirus pandemic. A Pandemic that has now crossed over our borders and who’s shadow now looms large over our country.
Covid-19 is here! As Canadians, let’s all do our part to help mitigate it’s infectious spread and unwanted stay. No matter how long that may be.
THE WORD OF WAYNE