Both New Brunswick and Nova Scotia have spent the past week battling COVID-19 outbreaks of varying size, with regionalized lockdowns implemented in an attempt to slow the swell of this third wave.
One Atlantic Canadian epidemiologist says both should instead opt for province-wide lockdown.
“They need to just lock it down now,” says Susanne Gulliver, with Newlab Research in St. John’s.
She says location restrictions aren’t going to be enough to curb highly transmissible variants.
“The virus does not care about our artificially created regions and borders,” Gulliver says.
“The virus goes where people are.”
Gulliver points to two other provinces’ recent performances as examples.
Newfoundland and Labrador, where she’s located, locked the province down for weeks when a variant outbreak popped up in February. The recovery since has been consistent.
Meantime Ontario has spiralled without strict, widespread measures, she says.
“Ontario is currently in a situation that should never have happened … and we can’t let that happen in the Atlantic Provinces.”
Top doctors in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia have been vocal about the concerning nature of the various variants.
“I’ll be honest with people — this situation scares me,” Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer Dr. Robert Strang said Thursday.
Highly transmissible variants are proving a difficult battle all over Canada.
Most recently, a so-called “double mutant” variant feared to be driving a record surge in new cases in India was identified in British Columbia.
It hasn’t been detected in the Atlantic provinces yet, but other variants have experts here troubled enough.
“These variants and this amount of spread have me very worried, says infectious disease specialist Dr. Lisa Barrett.
“They move faster, they move harder and in younger people.”
Barrett shared Gulliver’s concern about the speed at which Maritimers can get current spread under control – lest a vaccine-resistant variant form.
“I’m hopeful that, while we’ll still see smaller waves, that vaccines are going to turn this into something, maybe by next Christmas, that we’ll be able to manage a little more easily,” she says.