The sharp rise in the number of COVID-19 cases in Ontario has many worried about whether a second lockdown is coming sooner than we expected. No one wants to rewind to the March ghost-town-like scenario where everyone was confined to their homes and businesses were shuttered. But with the daily case count crossing the 300 mark both on Monday and Wednesday this week, the fear is a second wave might have already begun. One infectious disease expert told a media outlet that “it might very well be” so.
What happens next and whether we are able to limit the ‘second wave’ truly depends on us. Warnings issued by politicians and public healthcare officials mean little if we do not follow the COVID-19 prevention guidelines. After all exposure through social interaction is the main reason for the increased transmission and community spread.
‘Resurgence’ or ‘second wave’, terminology hardly matters when we are responsible for infecting our loved ones and others in the workplace and community.
In fact, that is the real problem! Despite officials talking themselves hoarse, we have not fully understood (or refuse to accept) that the fight against the novel coronavirus is an individual as well as a community responsibility. Meaning that it is primarily up to ‘each one’ and consequently ‘all of us’.
Young adults partying, large backyard gatherings, crowded restaurants and bars and even playdates are said to be the cause for the uptick. ‘We’ are the common denominator in all of them.
Ontario’s health minister has repeatedly said individuals under the age of 40 make up more than 60 per cent of the cases. News reports of crowded bars and beaches, and on and off campus parties exemplify this. But the high case rate in this age group might also be because they are the most mobile, Dr. Loh Peel’s Medical Officer of Health seems to say. Nonetheless, they must act responsibly for the sake of their vulnerable family members and the community as a whole. Healthcare practitioners have repeatedly pointed out that young people are not immune, they might just have more positive outcomes. Having said that, some studies suggest that effects even in mild cases among young people may be felt long term.
Certain restaurants and bars (and strip clubs) are also said to be putting their employees and customers at risk by flouting safety guidelines. According to a media report Mississauga received almost 1,000 complaints related to restaurants and bars not following COVID-19 rules since July, but no tickets or fines were issued.
A friend saw this first hand when watching a Raptors game at a bar two weeks ago. It became overcrowded in addition to there being no enforcement of mask wearing, so he left. Shouldn’t other patrons have exercised the same level of caution? As Mayor Tory said, if the bus becomes a party bus, just get off. Why put yourself and your loved ones at risk?
Backyard parties are also being blamed for the rise in cases. Taking the party outside does not make it virus-proof. The risk of catching the virus is reduced outdoors but it also depends on the type of interactions. Members of different households (and social bubbles) must be able to social distance from each other. A hundred people (the permitted number) cannot safely distance in a tiny backyard.
More importantly, just because you can gather does not mean that you should. While we are advised to keep to our social circle of 10, this too depends on who the others are socializing with. In short, this is not a time to party. One must find other ways to entertain one’s self or family.
Travellers flaunting quarantine rules are said to be adding to the problem. As a result, officials are looking to impose severe fines for these offences.
I believe monitoring and implementation of quarantine should also be stricter. I received two automated calls from the government during my 14-day quarantine period. This made little sense to me unless they were able to track my location. Still, anyone could have answered my phone. In-person house calls, like in Australia, would be more effective in my opinion.
Peel’s officer of medical health also called out businesses that were not implementing COVID-19 safety protocols and putting their employees and the community at risk. This is such a shame!
Giving this troubling scenario in which it seems like we cannot act responsibly, a government-imposed lockdown might be the only solution to minimizing the spread and impact of a second wave. The social and economic consequences will be devastating but we only have ourselves to blame.
Schools will not need to be shut down if everyone in the community does their part one medical official pointed out. So in the end, it really comes down to you and me.