Roy Green: Visceral questions concerning the pandemic

Hailey Knott, nurse operations manager, waits at a COVID-19 testing station located at the international arrivals area at Pearson International Airport in Toronto on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

As shutters continue to descend on our societies in an effort to stall community transmission of COVID-19, visceral questions beg to be addressed.

Will a continued locking down of businesses, supplemented by the locking in of a population by way of curfews, prove either effective or acceptable by people who are stressed to the max?

Lockdowns don’t appear to be accomplishing their objectives, as the daily numbers of positive COVID-19 tests climb. Politicians though seem to be putting the blame on the citizenry.

“You didn’t stay home over Christmas and new year as requested and/or required,” chastise politicians.

The responding echo from coast to coast? “Neither did you.”

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A handful of federal and provincial politicians were discovered to have preferred Hawaii, California, Florida and Europe to observing their own dictates. Namely, don’t travel and stay home.

So here we are, struggling through January 2021, with the coronavirus and its variants biting at our heels while we hope for an effective and quick national rollout of COVID-19 vaccines.

Canadians by the millions are at the ready, their sleeves rolled up. Unfortunately, so far the available arms massively outnumber available vaccine doses.

The prime minister originally said the majority of Canadians would be able to feel the prick of the wished-for needle by September. On Friday, however, Public Services and Procurement Minister Anita Anand cautioned that goal is dependent on “Health Canada approval of certain vaccines.”

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Contrast that with England’s projection that completion of its vaccination program for willing adults, estimated at 75 per cent of the national population, will occur in early April.

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A little reflection may be in order here. Let’s turn back the calendar to 12 months ago.

“It is important to take this (COVID-19) seriously and be vigilant and be prepared, but I don’t think there’s reason for us to panic or be overly concerned,” said Canada’s chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, on Jan. 20, 2020.

Two days later, Canada issued instructions that anyone arriving from the suspected breakout location of COVID-19, Wuhan, China, and displaying symptoms of infection should be advised to self-isolate for 14 days.

On the same day, Beijing closed down public transit in Wuhan.

On Jan. 24, the World Health Organization insisted travel bans to and from China were unnecessary. China, meanwhile, proceeded to lock down 12 cities.

The year 2020 tracked along, replete with questionable decision-making, like the ill-advised shipping to China of 16 tonnes of much-needed in Canada personal protective equipment (PPE), and the prime minister signing off on a heralded vaccine development agreement with Chinese company CanSino Biologics, only to witness Beijing arbitrarily walk away from that deal in August.  

Government interventions such as wage subsidies were many, necessary, of real assistance, and hugely expensive. The deficit soared to 20 times what might otherwise define a year of poor fiscal management and the national debt began to flirt with $1 trillion.

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You know the history. You lived it. We all did, and we’re living it still.

The patchwork of lockdowns continues, kids are variously kept out of school, the economy struggles, Quebec has upped the public health ante by introducing an 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew, there’s speculation of a spring federal election, and arms remain at the ready for vaccination. And the question becomes, how might the national population respond to a continuation or acceleration of lockdowns, any broad application of curfews, and/or disappointment in the availability of vaccines?

As in much of 2020, the early days of the new year appear rife with uncertainty.

Stand by.

Roy Green is the host of the Roy Green Show on the Global News Radio network.

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