The term “flatten the curve” is something we’ve been hearing a lot about these days, which is in reference to the fact that society can help slow down the spread and rate of COVID-19 infections, as well as reduce the number of patients who are in need of urgent emergency care by following measures put in place by health officials (such as practicing physical distancing, staying home as much as possible (including working remotely), and ensuring you only go out for essential items such as groceries and medication. If we all work together and follow these crucial guidelines that have been put forth, the quicker we can get back to living our normal lives again; but if we don’t, then the longer these measures will be in effect which will not only have an even bigger effect on the economy, but we will also begin to see it take an even larger toll on our mental wellbeing. That being said, while British Columbia’s public health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, has said she remains cautiously optimistic and while we’ve yet to determine if Canada has reached its peak, there have been some signs to suggest that we may be in the very early stages of starting to flatten the COVID-19 curve – at least in this Province.
So just how do we know that things are starting to change? The numbers play an important factor. While the total amount of overall cases continues to rise each day due to testing being conducted regularly, the percentage of daily number of new confirmed cases that are announced are much less than what they were two to three weeks ago. In addition, the number of those hospitalized and/or in the ICU (Intensive Care Unit) also tends to be fairly steady at this time – while the number of those who have fully recovered from the virus has also been rising, which is another optimistic sign to suggest that things are headed in the right direction.
While some wonder why, in comparison to British Columbia, other Provinces such as Ontario and Quebec are seeing sharper increases in the number of cases each day (often by the hundreds), it’s important to keep in mind that these are more largely populated regions. British Columbia, for example, as an estimated population of approximately 5 million; while Quebec’s population is at approximately 8.4 million, and 14.5 in Ontario (which is almost triple in comparison to us.) Thus, the more populated the area, the more likely it would be to see an increase in the number of cases of COVID-19 from these Provinces.
While it’s difficult to determine the exact cause as to why there has been such a jump in cases in Ontario and Quebec, health officials say it could be due to a combination of many different factors. For example, in Quebec, March break occurred before any social distancing measures were put in place – meaning people were congregating in large groups, travelling, etcetera; all of which would certainly be the perfect storm for the spread of COVID-19 to occur. There have also been outbreaks in long-term care facilities in these provinces. For example, Ontario has seen outbreaks at 50+ facilities, and one contributing factor of this is due to the fact that several workers at these facilities do not just work at one. While we have also seen similar outbreaks at facilities right here in B.C., the number of these outbreaks has been smaller. Our Province’s officials also have new measures in place that prevent staff of these facilities from working at several and must, instead, stick to one facility for the time being.
Then there is the matter of limiting non-essential travel, which our Province’s officials put strict limits on early on. By restricting non-essential travel, this meant that individuals should not be gathering in large groups, and only leaving home if absolutely necessary. While some question why we haven’t gone into a complete lockdown (similar to other countries, such as Italy), this is because, thus far, it hasn’t been necessary. But whether or not things continue on the path that they are is ultimately up to each of us, as the things we do today will determine the outcome of tomorrow, as well as the days, weeks and months ahead.