A few short weeks ago, Hugh asked if I would write a guest column and suggested that I could address this virus that was causing massive health concerns in far off places. That was before most of us knew the phrases, “social distancing”, “self-isolation” or “flattening the curve”, and that the foundations of our personal health, financial and social norms would be completely shaken.
What started out as an information piece on the illness, with facts about the novel SARS-CoV-2 virus causing Covid-19, and basic personal hygiene techniques to stop transmission, became redundant as public health and media agencies provided a wealth of information. And I will emphasize here, that if you think you are exhibiting signs of the Covid-19 infection, stay at home, self-isolate and call Telehealth Ontario, your doctor or visit the Public Health Ontario website. DO NOT call 911, or visit a Covid-19 assessment centre unless directed to do so.
Most cases are mild and self-limiting, as with any other viral illness. It appears that most of us are heeding the messages on the basics of handwashing, disinfecting the surfaces we touch often and staying home if we have symptoms…but that is not enough.
At the time of writing, many experts in infectious disease have suggested that Canada is still in it’s “Golden Hour of Opportunity”, a term coined by a South Korean health official. This refers to the segment of time when strict social distancing can slow the transmission of this highly infectious disease. Rigorous social distancing has been likened to a controlled burn around the perimeter of a forest fire. By starving the virus of hosts to infect, the disease is, if not extinguished, slowed significantly. It is too early to be certain at this point, but it appears that South Korea positively altered the course of their outbreak by enacting distancing and self-isolation early, but Italy missed their “Golden Hour”.
What I’m asking of ALL of us, is to be incredibly mindful of each cough, each social interaction, each trip to the store, or even to health care providers. Each and every personal contact avoided could stop one channel of transmission.
To turn the negative around, I would like to use Canada’s Golden Hour in a different positive context. There is a great deal to be hopeful about because we live in Huntsville, Ontario, Canada. We have knowledgeable people making key decisions for us. During the 2003 SARS outbreak, one notable fact is that Canada was home to many of the brightest people in the field of infectious disease. The Covid-19 virus has been labelled novel—meaning this is the first evidence of it being transmitted in humans. Canadian scientists are at the forefront in learning the characteristics of this infection. Public health officials and health experts are making quick, informed decisions on altering the path the illness takes in Canada. Will errors be made? Of course, we are still learning about this virus. Are we overprepared, or too complacent? Time will tell.
The roll out of Covid-19 preparedness in Huntsville has been swift and many people should be commended. The hospital and Family Health team administration, doctors, nurse practitioners, nurses, lab technicians and many more are collaborating on getting prepared and collectively saying “how can I help?” There are still many unknowns, but there is confidence in facing this pandemic here, rather than any other place on the earth.
Finally, We Are Huntsville! There is something very special about this town. Local businesses and service providers, many of whom have been shut down or had to alter normal business patterns, are reaching out in other ways to help. Let’s remember these people and businesses and support them after Covid-19 has passed us by. Amazon can deliver many things, but it doesn’t deliver community spirit or support.
Maybe Canada’s “Golden Hour” is upon us. Take time to think about how YOU can help to put gaps in virus transmission by staying in your home and enacting social distancing. But also take time to be grateful that we live in this caring town, in Canada—this wonderful country we get to call home.
For thirty years Bill Coonhas been the pharmacist-owner of Muskoka Medical Centre Pharmacy. Bill was the Faculty of Pharmacy Centennial Scholar for his graduating year, and recipient of the Remedy’s Rx Award for Innovation. He believes strongly that the best medication one can take is exercise, and that Huntsville is the best place one can live.
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