Government and public health officials are advising Canadians to restrict this year’s Thanksgiving celebrations to members of their household. So, if you were planning to get together with extended family and friends, just take the party online. While it might not be the same as in-person gatherings, it is definitely a safe way to connect with all our loved ones. What could be more important than ensuring they are healthy and safe? Moreover, there are no restrictions on the number of people you can invite to the virtual party.

Over the past 6 months most of us have become accustomed to and enjoyed zoom meets for birthdays and anniversaries or simply as a way to stay in touch. One more virtual celebration is not too much to ask, given what is at stake, especially for our vulnerable family members. With Ontario reporting almost 800 cases on Thursday, it is really up to each one of us and not officials to stop the spread of the deadly coronavirus.

We could be on the brink of a disaster an epidemiologist said.

The situation in the hotspots — Toronto, Peel, Ottawa and now York—is concerning. The regional differences offer a perspective of how the virus is being transmitted as well as how to curtail the spread.

While outbreaks in Toronto have been linked to restaurants, bars, and gyms, in Peel region it is among workplaces, home and social setting, Dr. Lawrence Loh said. At a news conference on Wednesday Peel’s Medical Officer of Health pointed out that the region has more homes with a higher number of family members when compared to Toronto. The social scene is also different. In Brampton, for instance, socializing appears to be less bar hopping and more get-togethers at home, he explained. Additionally, more Peel residents have jobs that require them to go into work, like warehouses, factories, and distribution centres. All of which contribute to higher rates of transmissions.

This also explains why Toronto’s top doctor Eileen de Villa asked for the city’s bars, restaurants, and gyms to be shut down while Dr. Loh recommended reducing gathering limits.

Saying no to spending time with relatives and friends during the pandemic is an act of love, Health Minister Patty Hajdu said. She is right. Distancing from loved ones is the best way to ensure you do not infect them and vice-versa. The possibility of being asymptomatic increases the risk of anyone transmitting the virus without even knowing it.

The fear of transmitting the coronavirus to my family is what helped me get through the isolation during the 14 days of quarantine when I got back from India. It was hard but worth it.

A friend whose husband contracted the virus through his workplace and then transmitted it to her and their son was extremely thankful her frail mother was not infected. This was not luck but a result of all the precautions the family took to minimize her mother’s exposure, including interacting with her from a safe distance while at home.

It is definitely a hard call with some medical experts recommending that college and university students not come home. Families are being asked to send care packages to them instead. This has led to a surge in demand for testing, but public health officials warn that results may not be accurate depending on the timing of the test. The individual could be incubating the virus and test negative but later develop symptoms and infect others.

I stopped hosting Thanksgiving a few years ago because a change in my son’s schedule did not permit him to come home. I didn’t want to celebrate without him.

So why not hold the party till your kids are home?

It is time to stop thinking of cancelling our in-person Thanksgiving party as a huge sacrifice. Let us look at it as a Thanksgiving gift to our relatives and vulnerable loved ones instead. Or even as an investment towards an in-person Diwali or Christmas celebration. The results of the efforts we make today will pay off in the future. Not just for us but the community, province and country as a whole
With Ontario being in the grip of the second wave, social bubbles of any size are no longer viable. And as with any other illness prevention is better than cure.

This being a new virus, its long term effects in those who have recovered are still unknown. So let’s not take the Trump approach to beating it!

The best way to protect ourselves and our loved ones is distancing physically and socially as much as possible. This Thanksgiving, it means not going to a household you do not live in or having anyone who does not live under the same roof over.

Have a happy and safe Thanksgiving with your household… and extended family online!


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