We live in unprecedented times. We have heard it said time and again throughout this COVID-19 crisis. As I write this, millions of Canadians are either voluntarily confining themselves to their homes or are “self-isolating” after being exposed to the virus through contact with others suspected or confirmed to be infected, or after returning from abroad.
By: Surjit Singh Flora
Non-essential stores are shut, malls are empty, once crowded public spaces and buildings are silent and empty, theatre stages are dark and countless Canadians are not working. The effort and expense being expended to wrestle this illness into submission are staggering, and the damage to our economy will take years to repair.
And yet while the most basic of precautions will contribute greatly to controlling the rate of infection, why is it that so many of us are not doing what is surely the duty of every Canadian? And what are these basic precautions? Wash your hands frequently, cover your mouth if you cough or sneeze, self-isolate at home if you feel unwell, avoid being in groups, stay inside and out of harm’s way, and perhaps most importantly, practice social distancing.
While I am a Canadian, I immigrated to this country by choice and that choice was one of the best in my entire life. In fact, many immigrants have settled here to make this country their home, and many have brought their parents and grandparents here to live with them. And yet I am alarmed at what I see in my neighbourhood, my community. These rules, these duties that we all must do to protect ourselves, our neighbors and our loved ones from infection are not being followed as they should. I continue to see mass gatherings in my community. Weddings, parties in homes and halls. This is dangerous beyond belief and will only serve to fuel this pandemic, make more people ill, and possibly even result in the death of the vulnerable among us.
Social distancing is important as it is one of the few, effective tools we can use to stop the spread of Covid-19. Whether buying our groceries or stopping at a pharmacy to pick up a prescription, we need to remain at least two meters away from each other as a means of infecting those around us.
If you need any example of what happens if you don’t take responsibility and use every precaution to not spread the virus or catch it yourself, look to the carnage that is Italy, or Iran, where out of control infection rates have strained health resources beyond the breaking point. As I write this, over 6,000 people have died of the virus in Italy. Their death toll has past that of China.
Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer has asked us all to take personal action to “flatten the curve”. “The curve” refers to the projected number of people who will catch COVID-19 over a period of time. If we can push those numbers down, we can avoid putting a major strain on our health system, lessen the rate of infection, and ultimately save lives. In fact, Dr. Tam has urged us not only to flatten the curve, but to “plank it”, meaning to aggressively beat those numbers down through consistent, aggressive acts of prevention.
It is everyone’s duty, and in everyone’s best interest to listen to Dr. Tam, and plank that curve! New Canadians who hold their adopted country so dear should be leading the way. We are at a crossroads now. This will either to continue to get much worse, or, if we take those precautions, and especially if we practice social distancing, we can turn the tide of this pandemic, get it under control, take the first step towards making our lives normal, and save lives in the process. Social distancing will save lives. And just maybe, the life you save may be your own.