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The premier was right to scold the large groups of people gathering on beaches and in parks over the weekend for ignoring the need for social distancing in the fight against COVID-19.
And he was right to declare a state of emergency. It was the only way to get the point across that people need to stop gathering in large groups, outside or inside. It’s the only way to slow the spread of the virus so our health-care system is not overwhelmed by hundreds of very sick people.
You only have to look at the desperate situation in Italy to realize the danger. Italy has more than 64,000 cases and about 6,000 dead, many of whom perished because hospitals were unable to treat them due to a lack of intensive care beds and ventilators.
It’s not that there aren’t enough ICU beds in Italy, it’s that there was a rapid spike of very sick people all at once, too many to treat. The first people to be hospitalized got the respirators and those who followed did not.
Leaders did not at first realize the seriousness of the situation and delayed the measures that all Canadian provinces have now instituted.
So instead of grumbling about being stuck inside, we should count our blessings that our health officials spotted the risk and took steps quickly.
The precautions we’re being ordered to undertake are uncomfortable and unprecedented. But they’re necessary to impress upon the public the need to avoid contact with other people and stay inside.
The same frustration McNeil expressed on Sunday was repeated by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Monday. Canadian cases have topped 2,000.
“Enough is enough. Go home and stay home,” Trudeau admonished. He and the premiers were talking on Monday about co-ordinating federal and provincial messaging on the issue.
On Tuesday, Parliament was recalled for an emergency sitting to pass last week’s economic measures, and Canadians will be treated to the sight of non-partisan political action and quick passage of federal bills.
The government took the rare step of sharing the bill with opposition parties before introduction, to get quick input and speed passage.
All is not gloomy. The Chinese province of Hubei, where the coronavirus pandemic originated, is permitting businesses to open and easing travel restrictions. Returning Chinese citizens are tested and there are now concerns about a second wave of infections, but life is slowly returning to normal.
That is a sign of things to come, once we get through what health officials call “the curve.” We in Atlantic Canada are just heading up the slope.