What a strange world we’re living in. One day, history books will be written about these days and the amazing global experience we’re all sharing now. But that is the future, and, right now, the future seems kind of vague and distant. You will notice, faithful reader, that this issue seems more of a Public Service Announcement than is usual for the Times. But it is vital that we get information out to our friends and neighbours to help them understand and deal with the current situation. We need to adjust to new realities, but, at the same time, keep our heads and sense of perspective. Countries like Italy and Spain are going through truly traumatic times, as thousands of their citizens die from this strange new thing called Covid-19. Other countries, taking precautions and strict measures of self-isolation and social distancing, are handling the crisis better, with far fewer deaths and cases of illness. And Canada is one of those countries.
I mentioned last week that, on average, the regular flu kills 3,500 in Canada every year. We are still far from that at the moment, with a death toll of 19 at the time of writing, Sunday, March 22. According to government and international sources, around 80% of cases of Covid-19 will be a mild to moderate illness, close to 14% have severe disease and around 6% are critical. To become infected, generally, you need to be 15 minutes or more in the vicinity of an infected person, within 1-2 metres, to be considered at risk or a close contact.
But we know that now. Terms like “self-isolation” and “social distancing”, and “flatten the curve”, have already become part of everyday talk, and that is good. We know what to do, and we have to do it. But we do it calmly, without panic, without overreacting. It is astonishing, though, how many people have ignored their responsibilities. Bondi Beach in Australia: closed because so many people were going there to swim and hang out. Argentina, when the government called for a 14-day isolation period, cars were backed up for 2 kms at beaches, as people enjoyed the late summer sun. Even in Italy, where the death toll is highest, people were still gathering in crowds.
But back to Canada: we don’t know how long this strange period will last, but we have to remember to live, to sing and dance, to jog, pray, and phone our friends and family, to make sure noone is lonely, even if they’re alone. There are still coffee shops and restaurants in North Grenville and Merrickville-Wolford serving take-out. Give them your business, they are trying to survive this and it isn’t easy. Even the North Grenville Times is facing uncertainty. Will we have enough advertising revenue (our only source of revenue) to continue printing, or will we have to exist only on-line at some point?
We may see a sudden rise in cases confirmed, and possibly of deaths too. We have to expect that, perhaps. But it will end, just as previous pandemics and epidemics have. It just takes time, but less time, if we follow the advice and remain responsible citizens. We do so for the sake of our children, our parents, our friends and the nation. Believe it or not (and you should believe it and make it central to your behaviour), self-isolation and social distancing on your part will save lives. It is that simple.
Thank God that we have the internet at a time like this. We may be socially isolated, but we need not be emotionally or spiritually isolated. There is music, movies, concerts of all kinds, available for us to enjoy. I love the fact that Italians, and even Germans too, are going out on balconies and spaces to sing to each other. The plans announced by the governments, federally and provincially, to ease the financial stress on those laid off during this period will help. Read all the advice provided in these pages, and realise that life is not over, not even on hold, if we choose to embrace it. Get out for a walk, a run, out in the fresh air. Social media sites have been sources of genuine concern for many reasons, but this is one time they can play a really positive role, so use them to stay in touch with the vulnerable, the elderly, with friends and family.
Let us know how you’re doing. Write to us, e-mail us, leave a phone message, telling us how you’re doing and what you’ve found to share with the community. In this issue, our intrepid reporter, Hilary, writes about her journey back from Nepal to Canada, passing through uncertain times and places. Do you have a story too? Are you finding it hard to be isolated? Let’s share this experience with each other, it may help others, and it may help you to deal with the understandable fear and anxiety so many are feeling.
This, too, shall pass: the end is not yet. The times are in his hands. Let’s keep pressing on.