Indefinitely. That’s the current timeline for the province’s health orders to restrict daily life and socialization in B.C. to stop the spread of COVID-19.
“Right now, we need to stay the path,” said provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry at a news conference on Feb.5. “We need to protect the progress we have made and not squander our progress.”
Meanwhile, on the other side of the globe, Western Australia went into a five-day snap lockdown after one person tested positive for the virulent UK strain of coronavirus. Yes. That’s right — one person.
On Feb. 5, B.C. counted 28 cases of the U.K. and South African variants.
If no one in Western Australia tests positive for COVID-19 in the coming days, life will return to what it was prior to the lockdown.
Previously, there were almost no restrictions in Australia and little requirements to wear masks. Cafes were crowded, football stadiums packed with thousands of fans, and the country hosted music concerts with more than 6,000 attendees.
Hugs were even normal.
As of Feb. 5, Australia has seen 909 deaths due to COVID-19, while 20,682 have died in Canada.
Compared to B.C., Australia has enforced strict restrictions when cases of COVID-19 emerge, such as locking inter-state borders and forcing people to remain indoors, except for an hour of exercise per day. Parts of the country have gone into multiple lockdowns in the past year, including five million people in Melbourne who were ordered to stay home for 110 days last summer.
While hindsight is usually clearer, it’s hard not to wonder what life in Canada would be like if we had acted differently.
What if we had gone into lockdown when the second wave of COVID-19 arrived last fall? What if we had shut provincial borders? What if we had closed schools, restaurants, ski resorts, stores and newspaper offices? What if we had followed Australia?
Where would we be now? How many people would still be alive?
While current restrictions in B.C. started Nov. 17, we have not really been able to gather since last March. There’s been no in-person attendance for hockey games or music concerts since last spring.
When was the last time you publicly embraced someone?
It feels like we’re stuck in a twilight zone – waiting, indefinitely. And we’ve been here for months.
It’s reminiscint of a scene from Lord of the Rings, when Pippin is in Gondor anticipating Mordor to attack. He says, “I don’t want to be in a battle, but waiting on the edge of one I can’t escape is even worse.”
Our government’s actions regarding COVID-19 begs the question: Are we making this situation longer, more painful and deadly than it needs to be?
While we have not been able to socially gather for almost three months, our daily cases of the virus has only slightly decreased in B.C.. Meanwhile unemployment rates continue to spike.
Australia has experienced it all, from intense housebound lockdowns to crowded gatherings. By comparison, parts of Canada have practically been in stasis for 10 months, except for a surging number of COVID-19 deaths that is 2,175 per cent higher than the land down under.