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OPEN but with caution

Posted in Featured, View Point

Published on August 16, 2021 with No Comments

Ontario is reminding that it is  one of only two provinces in Canada that required students to have  up-to-date vaccinations in order to attend school.  The other being New Brunswick.  Way back in 1982, Ontario had enacted a legislation and currently requires that students be inoculated against nine diseases including mumps, polio, measles, diphtheria. The law states that Children who are not vaccinated can be suspended from school for up to 20 days, and their parents can be forced to pay fines of up to $1,000. Under the same, Ontario now is stressing that each student be vaccinated against Covid-19 to be eligible and safe to attend the school. For some, it may be a harsh measure, but certainly has copious indications to slow or stem the spread.

On the other hand, Alberta government has caused a large spread controversy  with its plans to re-open the province despite pandemic having not settled.   Does the latest announcements by Alberta are any indication of the province abandoning efforts to contain the spread of COVID and the new Delta variant?

Dr. Deena Hinshaw Alberta’s chief medical officer of health (CMOH), while announcing measures sounded strategic yet helpless. She said,  “We will not eliminate COVID-19, which means we need to learn to live with it. Testing every person with a runny nose or sore throat is an extraordinary measure that we cannot sustain, particularly through the respiratory virus season.”  Hinshaw stressed the province’s approach would include a  include a “robust surveillance system” and responding to local outbreaks. “Legally mandating everyone to stay home for 10 days if they have any symptoms is also an extraordinary measure.It could only be justified when the risk was unchecked by vaccine protection. I believe that for those who test positive for COVID-19, knowing that staying home is the way to protect others, and is the right thing to do, will be enough for them to take that action.”

Covid 19 pandemic has shown that people can’t be locked indefinitely, lockdown has swear social and economic consequences. Vaccines have given the world a sigh of relief to an extent that these are now being called “the game changer”, even though the other school of thought opines that it may be premature to think that the pandemic is over and it may be inaccurate to say that Covid 19 can be treated the same way as any other respiratory disease.  Alberta’s decision didn’t come as a surprise, as doctors and health care officials have been considering ways and means to come out of the effects of pandemic, and opening up being one of them.  As not all provinces have not done exactly the same even during intense lockout, there is a ray of hope for other provinces. Deena Hinshaw is now getting ample support from various quarters. Newfoundland and Labrador CMOH Dr. Janice Fitzgerald  said, “ “We’ll probably be able to learn from Alberta’s experience in this regard.”

Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba’s chief public health officer too found the move by Alberta favourable. He said “We’re — all of us, I hope — cheering for Albertans too,” but add the same time, sounded a word of caution and that too rightly.  “But it is duly noted that not every jurisdiction has got the same epidemiology,” Roussin said.

Alberta has taken a lead, with ample cautious measures in place. Not other provinces but also other nations would be looking at Alberta and Canada to judge the effectiveness of the measures.  A lot will depend on the Albertans to make this move a success.


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