The pandemic is sweeping through the world one person at a time labeled as COVID-19. This new virus, also known as the coronavirus, is a respiratory illness similar to the flu with its symptoms. Severe cases can lead to extended intensive care unit stays or even death. The USA, China, Spain and Italy are among the top countries to have the highest mortality rate. The USA is the world leader. There were 240,000 cases reported as of April 2 and more than 4,700 deaths. Canada started taking precautions early before it became widespread.
The outbreak of the virus has sent the world spinning with panic as the pandemic spreads quickly. This virus has caused businesses to shut down, workers to be sent home, and schools to close. Because of educational institutions shutting down, many students find themselves returning home and moving back into their childhood bedrooms. However, international students are struggling in a different way. Many of them are not able to return home due to the virus taking over their home country. Thus, they are having to stay with friends or find a way to stay on campus at their schools.
During the week of spring break, MC students across the globe got the email from MC president Dr. Blake Thompson saying that school would be extending spring break due to the coronavirus. Although I didn’t want to believe it, I knew that school would most likely close down for the rest of the semester. I made the decision to go back to campus, pack up my things, and make that 36-hour drive home back to my hometown in Alberta, Canada, before the Canadian government closed its borders. I made it across the border and am now just finishing my mandatory two-week quarantine. Online learning has definitely been a shift in the way that I am now attending college. I was homeschooled before college, so I thought it would be easy to come back home and do school. I was wrong—the struggle of procrastination and motivation is still there. The time zone change has also affected my studies; I am currently on mountain time, so all my classes are now an hour earlier. Being in the South is a slight shock to the system, but I made it my home and now I am having to switch back to being in Canada. The main transition is the weather: it is snowing in April. That is normal for our part of the world, but I had gotten used to the humidity of the South. I, along with many students around the world, am missing school and friends right now. I have not been able to see anyone but my family for the past two weeks. With everything going on, I am happy to be home and thankful for some quality quarantine time with my family. Having healthcare professionals in the family, I have come to appreciate how hard they are working through this time of crisis.
Canada was fortunate enough to be hit with the virus weeks later than some other countries, giving time for assessment and action. The Government of Canada started early with its safety precautions and management of the early stages of the outbreak. Business and school closures, social distancing, self quarantines and the limit for the number of people gathering all started when COVID-19 started to hit the USA, this all as an attempt to flatten the curve. According to Alberta Health Services, the province of Alberta has been hit harder with the virus than most Canadian provinces, along with Quebec, Ontario and British Columbia. A quarantine act for all travelers outside of the country was passed by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau; all travelers have been mandated to isolate for at least two weeks. Domestic travel by plane or train will soon be off the table for anyone exhibiting symptoms of the coronavirus, Trudeau announced March 28.
The province of Alberta has recently increased the enforcement of public health orders as the number of COVID-19 cases surpasses 700. On March 25, there were 61 new cases of the virus in 24 hours. Access to public recreational facilities and private entertainment facilities has been prohibited. Restaurants and food service businesses are either closed or offering carryout only. The mass gathering number is limited to 50 people, and the fines for violating a health order can be as high as $1,000. Visitation to long-term care and other continuing care facilities is limited to essential visitors only. As of March 27, many provinces across Canada are shutting down all non-essential businesses.
Canadian healthcare workers are already preparing for the second wave of COVID-19 through Canada within the next few weeks. There is a worry about enough protective gear for healthcare staff and medical supplies for patients. “We are taking stock of Canada’s ICU beds, ventilators and protective gear for our healthcare staff. We are looking across the globe for more of these necessities,” said Dr. Njoo, the deputy chief public health officer of Canada. According to Alberta Health, within the past 24 hours, 77 healthcare workers in Alberta along have been tested positive for COVID-19.
“Canada is spending $192 million on developing and producing vaccines in defense against the virus. We want to provide more of a long term solution to the virus.” Prime Minister Trudeau recently announced. Researchers across Vancouver, Alberta and Quebec are formulating and testing different vaccines to create a long-term defense against the virus.