The Pandemic of COVID-19

Source: Pixabay.

Written by Taylor Robinson

Edited by Mira Cantor

The Virus as a Pandemic

The coronavirus, or COVID-19, has quickly swept across the world, leading the World Health Organization to announce on Wednesday March 11, 2020 that the issue has become a pandemic. The new label means the rapidly spreading virus has already begun spreading to countries around the globe and will likely continue to do so. Originating in Wuhan, China, there are now over 150,000 people worldwide who have contracted the virus.

The Impact in North America

President Trump recently declared the COVID-19 outbreak as a national emergency. This action allows for more federal funding to become available, as well as supplies and other support.  Trump also urged all states to set up emergency operation centers “effective immediately” and asked “every hospital in the country to activate its emergency preparedness plan.”1 The Trump administration also said they would be increasing testing capacity, allowing more tests to be conducted, as well as a new method of drive-through testing to be created.2 America’s current system has received harsh criticism from many individuals who claim they were denied tests when showing symptoms of the virus. Trump has also enacted a travel ban, involving European countries, which is now set to expand to include the United Kingdom.

The Canadian federal government is warning against any international travel, and is evaluating possibilities of tightening the border in hopes of limiting the spread of COVID-19. As of March 17th, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that Canada will be denying entry to people who are not Canadian citizens or permanent residents. Trudeau made this clear in an announcement to Canadians and permanent residents, saying: “If you are abroad, it’s time for you to come home.”3 The government has also mandated that airlines do a basic health test of travellers; people showing symptoms of the virus will not be allowed entry into Canada. Only four international airports will be running, in Montreal, Toronto, Calgary, and Vancouver, as a method of ensuring effective screening.

The Ontario provincial government announced a cancellation of all public elementary schools and high schools for 2 weeks, and on Friday March 13, the Quebec government announced a cancellation of all daycares, elementary schools, high schools, CEGEPs, and universities for at least two weeks. Whereas Alberta has taken a step further and announced that schools are not closed yet, if they are, the earliest people can expect them to re-open is September.4

School cancellations are an act of social distancing. This is also demonstrated through employers encouraging employees to work from home if possible. Many retail and other non-essential stores have begun closing their doors to prevent large social gatherings.

An International Crisis

Italy currently has the highest reported cases of Coronavirus, and has been on lockdown; its borders are closed, and people are quarantined in their homes. Spain has followed Italy’s actions as the number of cases rapidly increases, and much like Canada, Egypt has decided to close schools and universities for 2 weeks.5 During this time, it is clear that countries are becoming stricter with travel, and are taking precautions to limit large social gatherings where the virus can easily spread. Travel during this time is not recommended and can pose challenges for citizens trying to return to their home country, as many flights are being cancelled and tighter border restrictions are being put in place.

Organizations and Celebrity Cases

The pandemic has caused many places and organizations to take preventative measures and enact closures. Walt Disney World has decided to close their parks, and sports organizations such as the NBA and the NHL are suspending their current seasons until further notice. A number of stores have begun only accepting debit and credit cards as forms of payment, while most restaurants and bars are closed until further notice, only offering takeout options.6

Popular celebrities such as Tom Hanks, Rita Wilson, and Rudy Gobert have all tested positive for COVID-19. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is now in self-quarantine as his wife Sophie Gregoire Trudeau tested positive for COVID-19 after a trip to the UK.7

Social Distancing

As research continues to be conducted on the COVID-19 outbreak and scientists and researchers try to better understand the virus, it is important for everyone to do their part in stopping the spread. Health professionals recommend social distancing as the best method to ‘flatten the curve’.8 In simpler terms, social distancing is described as keeping space between you and other people, as well as minimizing contact with others. People are encouraged to refrain from gatherings of over 10 people. This is recommended for everyone, not just those who are already ill or at higher risk.9


References

  1. “What State of Emergency Means for Coronavirus – CNNPolitics.” Accessed March 17, 2020. https://www.cnn.com/2020/03/10/politics/state-of-emergency-meaning-explained/index.html.
  2. “What State of Emergency Means for Coronavirus – CNNPolitics.” Accessed March 17, 2020. https://www.cnn.com/2020/03/10/politics/state-of-emergency-meaning-explained/index.html.
  3. Tumilty, Ryan. “Canada to Close Borders to Most Non-Citizens, Stop Ill Travellers from Boarding Inbound Flights, PM Announces.” National Post, March 17, 2020. https://nationalpost.com/news/canada/trudeau-travel-restrictions-ban-coronavirus-covid19-canada.
  4. Herring, Jason. “Province Says Schools Wouldn’t Reopen until at Least September If Closed.” Province says schools wouldn’t reopen until September if closed | Calgary Herald. Calgary Herald, March 15, 2020. https://calgaryherald.com/news/local-news/province-says-schools-wouldnt-reopen-until-at-least-september-if-closed.
  5. “Coronavirus: What’s Happening in Canada and around the World March 14 | CBC News.” CBCnews. CBC/Radio Canada, March 15, 2020. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/coronavirus-covid19-march-14-canada-world-1.5497761.
  6. Liu, Karon. “For Toronto Restaurants, the Choice for Now Is to Close or Offer Takeout.” thestar.com, March 16, 2020. https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2020/03/16/for-torontos-restaurants-the-choice-for-now-is-to-close-or-offer-takeout.html.
  7. “Sophie Grégoire Trudeau Tests Positive for Coronavirus | CBC News.” CBCnews. CBC/Radio Canada, March 13, 2020. https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/covid19-trudeau-premiers-coronavirus-1.5495001.
  8. Gillespie, Claire, and Claire Gillespie. “This Graph About Slowing Coronavirus Is Going Viral-Here’s What It Actually Means.” Health.com, March 13, 2020. https://www.health.com/condition/infectious-diseases/coronavirus/flatten-the-curve-meaning.
  9. Mandavilli, Apoorva. “Wondering About Social Distancing?” The New York Times. The New York Times, March 16, 2020. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/16/smarter-living/coronavirus-social-distancing.html.

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