Monday, September 14, 2020

First Things First

Covid 19 party, Vancouver

It's happening in Israel and Europe, Asia and the United States, Canada too perhaps. These places (and others) are seeing a resurgence of Covid-19 infections.

It could be many things - end of summer parties, exuberant college students returning to campus, Covid-fatigue leaving some people hostile to masks, social distancing, constant handwashing, etc.

In the Spring, when British Columbia had achieved a decent result in 'flattening the curve' of Covid infections, the provincial medical officer of health, Dr. Bonnie Henry, said it was inevitable that people would want to get outside and enjoy the summer weather (such as it was) and that we might have to redouble our efforts to suppress the virus in September.

A couple of days ago, CTV News interviewed a Toronto epidemiologist who raised a different explanation for this global resurgence. He said the data 'increasingly' suggested what we're seeing is the onset of the 'second wave' of the Covid-pandemic.

This doctor added that, if this is the second wave, that doesn't mean it has to be as devastating as the second wave of the Spanish flu of 1918, the real killer of that pandemic. Our knowledge is better than it was a century ago. We have established medical infrastructure built up since the spring of this year. The organization is still in place and we know how to lock down if that again becomes necessary.

We can't lockdown society again, not without good cause, unless we're willing to start eating our lawns. But we need to know what's behind this resurgence of infections. Is it the second wave and, if so, how do we get ahead of it? What must we do?

What concerns me most is our students, especially grade school kids. We closed down their schools in the spring. If we're embarking on a second wave is it really the right time to send them back to classes? Is it safe?

This is plainly the sort of question that triggers the "precautionary principle." \
"The precautionary principle or precautionary approach states if an action or policy has a suspected risk of causing harm to the public or to the environment, in the absence of scientific consensus that the action or policy is [not] harmful, the burden of proof that it is not harmful falls on those taking the action. ...The principle implies that there is a social responsibility to protect the public from exposure to harm, when scientific investigation has found a plausible risk. These protections can be relaxed only if further scientific findings emerge that provide sound evidence that no harm will result."  
In 2015, the Federal Court of Canada upheld the precautionary principle as part of the substantive law of our country. The Supreme Court of Canada has also applied the precautionary principle.
It is the substantive law of Canada. Why does our government pretend otherwise? Why do our premiers and our prime minister act as though it doesn't exist? Is it because complying with this fundamental, substantive law doesn't suit them?


Anonymous said...

Is it safe to send kids back to school? Depends on where you live. I see no problem whatsover in our Atlantic Bubble. Once you hit Quebec and the rest of you chancers further West, well, surely that was what all the school-opening fuss was about during August. Perhaps you missed it, because bringing it up now is a bit late in the game. That horse bolted the stable completely this past Tuesday across the country.

In Nova Scotia, we've brought in thousands of temporary farm workers over the summer from the Caribbean, and now thousands of college students in the last three to four weeks. All had to self-isolate for two weeks, and provisions were made as to where they could stay. The students get three Covid-19 tests each in the 14 day internment and they're not the cheapo quick tests or antibody after-the-fact ones. Five of these younger would-be intellectuals decided they knew better than to self-isolate and are sitting around $1,000 lighter each, plus having to start their 14 days quarantine over again. The foreign farm workers tend to traditionally be repeat persons every year, and there was several years ago a CBC TV program on them, following some to their homes in the Caribbean. No crabbing about living conditions for them while here. So far as I'm aware, there were zero Covid-19 flare-ups with them and the farmers don't treat them like sh!t as is often the case in Ontario. Some who came in did test positive and were isolated upon arrival anyway - nobody died.

I was out shopping today in Halifax itself instead of the suburbs -- needed coffee beans from our best local roaster. Saw not a single instance of non-mask wearing people. There is no active police enforcement, only peer pressure. Those students at St FX and Acadia who paid the big fine? They were ratted out by their student peers. If you want to be serious about keeping Covid-19 at bay, then you have to the people on-side. Nobody I've met seems to think it's a conspiracy by Gates and fascists to remove their gonads and turn them into drones with no individuality.

Of course, everyone is well aware the whole thing could turn to crap in an instant, but being halfway sensible since we offed five dozen oldsters in the Spring seems to have concentrated peoples' minds wonderfully. More than I can say for the two wacked-out Prog-Bloggers arguing the toss on masks, especially the dude who thinks he's a philosopher genius.


The Disaffected Lib said...

BM, since you wrote your comment I amended this post to add a discussion of the "precautionary principle." It's not enough to say something is safe because one thinks/hopes/wants it to be safe. When something potentially dangerous is in question it is the substantive law of Canada that the party advocating that action prove it to be safe. The burden of proof is on every provincial government to prove, that is to demonstrate that re-opening schools at this point is safe for the students and the school staff.

It sounds as though Nova Scotia should be an example to us all.

Purple library guy said...

"A couple of days ago, CTV News interviewed a Toronto epidemiologist who raised a different explanation for this global resurgence"

"Second wave" isn't really an explanation as such, let alone a "different" one. Waves, first or second, have to happen because of the virus being transmitted from person to person. So if you get a second wave, and you ask "why/how is the virus being transmitted from person to person?" and get an answer, that would be an explanation.

The Disaffected Lib said...

I don't think that's the medical interpretation of viral waves, PLG. Ford alluded to this at his presser today, distinguishing a recurrence of infections from the effects of partying and the marked spike that's now underway in Ontario. He said he hoped he was wrong but that wasn't the advice he was getting from the medical types.