Wednesday, 18 March 2020

Are we going far enough, fast enough?

Mago asked if COVID-19 had made it to my corner of the universe. Yes. Yes, it has. Although we have a small number of cases in Canada, compared to elsewhere, they are steadily increasing. In the province where I live, we had a greater than 50% increase in cases yesterday from 7 to 18. Some of those are confirmed, others are presumptive. Here, we are not saying confirmed until the person tests positive with two separate tests.

The hospital where I work instituted a 'no visitors' policy yesterday at 6 p.m., with some exceptions (ie: baby in NICU ~ both parents allowed in) and one entrance for cancer and cardiac patients with appointments, and one entrance for all staff. Both of those entrances are manned with security and screening personnel, who ask all who wish to enter questions about respiratory symptoms, international travel (including to the US) or exposure to someone who had travelled internationally, and all are required to use the supplied hand sanitizer. Staff must present their photo ID. No ID, no working that day.

I, for one, am glad my hospital is taking the threat of the coronavirus seriously. I work with patients who have kidney failure, and they are, each and every one, immunocompromised. It is not widely known by laypeople that the kidneys play a role in your immune system, so when those aren't working properly, neither is your ability to fight off infections.

Two of the nurses I work with are from the Philippines. They both went back home to visit family (weeks ago), and as far as I know, have not come back yet because of the decrease in international flights. Another nurse had been in Mexico with her family, again for several weeks, and while she is back home (they drove), she is isolating at home, and has been tested (results unknown as this point) because she developed a cough and sneezing. Given that it is almost spring here, and we have had periods of melting snow and then freezing, we have the annual bloom of snow mould (it's a real thing! I get a runny nose every year!), that may very well be her issue, as she has no fever and no trouble breathing. But... better safe than sorry.

I am all for social distancing (I am an expert in that anyway), hand washing, and keeping people safe from this virus. I only hope that all the efforts of our federal, provincial and municipal governments to shut down travel and public gatherings have been done soon enough to flatten the curve. I have enough food, medication, coffee and cat food to last for weeks. It took a concerted effort to find two packages of toilet paper (thanks in part to my nephew!) so I now have 36 rolls. Most restaurants are doing takeout and delivery only now, some have closed completely, all the theatres and music venues are closed. The zoo and pavilions in City Park are closed. Museums and galleries are shuttered. Grocery stores and pharmacies are essential service and so are open. As are the liquor stores. That, I think, is hilarious! Don't cut off the supply of booze or all the drinkers will revolt! Many people have stocked up, not knowing if those will close soon.

Here's hoping our efforts keep the majority of people safe and virus-free. I can't say the same to our neighbours to the south, so other than essential trade, the border between Canada and the USA is closed. Stay safe, everyone! Keep your distance. Stay home. Try and stay positive. And please.... wash your damn hands!