There’s light, but the tunnel remains long
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 16/04/2020 (1081 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
There appears to be a ray of light at the end of the coronavirus tunnel — but Manitobans will play a vital role in determining how quickly we reach it.
The province’s public-health officials have raised the possibility that coronavirus restrictions could be eased in the not-too-distant future, but warn we have to remain vigilant for several more weeks, if not longer.
With warmer weather (finally, hopefully, possibly) right around the corner, Manitobans who have been hunkered down to stem the spread of COVID-19 will be sorely tempted to shake off the quarantine cobwebs and visit cottage country or swarm outdoor green spaces.
That could have serious consequences.
Although the number of infected Manitobans has not risen sharply for the last two weeks, this is not a time to let down our guard. For those who enjoy clichés, this is the time to keep our eyes on the prize, stay the course and put the pedal to the metal.
Yes, the low number of new cases in the province is fuelling hope, but Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba’s chief public health officer, reiterated Wednesday this is not the time to become complacent.
“We’re at the critical stage … and we might be able to see a time relatively soon when we can start loosening some of these restrictions,” Dr. Roussin said. “We should be optimistic, but we should not loosen our grip right now on these measures.”
“We should be optimistic, but we should not loosen our grip right now on these measures.” – Dr. Brent Roussin
To date, Manitobans’ adherence to Dr. Roussin’s orders has largely been a matter of trust. But as springtime’s activities beckon and the daily sameness of the chief public health officer’s message threatens to lessen its impact, it might be helpful if provincial officials were less reluctant to share the models and probabilities that underpin the urgency of physical-distancing measures and forced business closures.
Clear, factual, detailed information regarding the effectiveness of these measures and the consequences of relaxing too soon would reinforce for Manitobans the importance of maintaining safe practices through the crucial coming weeks.
Heading to cottages is a rite of spring, but cottage country isn’t throwing out the welcome mat. Kenora Mayor Dan Reynard made headlines last week when he suggested closing the border between Ontario and Manitoba to residential travel.
“We’re imploring people, stay home,” he said. “We welcome you back once this is all over … but right now, we need our Manitoba residents and summer residents to stay home. You cannot come into Kenora. It just puts too much pressure on our health-care system, and it increases the odds of bringing the virus into our community.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau this week spoke of a phased-in approach to reopening Canada’s economy, but warned any return to normalcy will take time and hinges on obeying public-health orders.
Re-starting the economy will be a crucial exercise, but must be carried out cautiously and deliberately; the final “all clear” cannot be sounded until a vaccine against COVID-19 is developed and ready for distribution.
It may not be what they want to hear as spring unfolds, but Canadians seem to be getting the message. A poll released this week found most Canadians want to see significant progress in the fight against COVID-19 before people are allowed to return to work and leisure activities.
For the most part, Manitobans have done an admirable job of sticking to the rules. And they need to continue doing that for these next critical weeks, or that long-awaited light at the end of the tunnel will quickly fade.