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Canada How Canada could learn lessons from Europe's 2nd wave of COVID-19

16:00  01 november  2020
16:00  01 november  2020 Source:   cbc.ca

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Health officials across the globe have warned that there could be a second wave of the COVID - 19 pandemic. Could this happen in Canada ? When it comes to the severity of the second wave , Kwong said it depends on how well Canadians abide by the measures in place and if the country is able to

But he said Canada can prepare now for a second wave of COVID - 19 illnesses in a number of different ways. We can learn from what those countries do in terms of when they start reducing the requirements for social distancing to help guide our own procedures and time frame for doing that so

A police officer checks information from pedestrians in a street in Paris on Friday, the first day of the second national lockdown as part of COVID-19 control measures. © Charles Platiau/Reuters A police officer checks information from pedestrians in a street in Paris on Friday, the first day of the second national lockdown as part of COVID-19 control measures.

The resurgence of COVID-19 cases in Europe and the introduction of new lockdowns to prevent health systems from being overwhelmed could be instructive for Canada.

France closed bars and restaurants on Friday, while Germany will do the same on Monday, as infections on the continent passed 10 million. Anyone leaving their home in Paris needs signed documentation. In Germany, people are urged to avoid unnecessary travel.

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"Given the very dynamic situation in all of Europe, we need to equally reduce contact in almost all European countries," German Health Minister Jens Spahn told journalists on Friday after chairing a video conference of European Union health ministers.

EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides echoed the call.

"We need to pull through this, where needed, with restrictions on everyday life to break the chain of transmission," she told the video conference.

Health officials are imposing tougher restrictions on business and social life to prevent public health systems from cracking under the pressure of too many cases of COVID-19 at once.

CBC News asked experts whether Canada could find itself in the same boat several weeks from now.

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British Columbia' s provincial health officer says that a second wave of COVID - 19 caused by the novel coronavirus is inevitable in Canada , but that the lessons learned over the past few months will help inform future responses.

Dr. Andrew Morris, an infectious disease specialist at Sinai Health System and University Health Network in Toronto, said the answer is yes if Canada continues down its current path of handling COVID-19 cases.

"It's not too dissimilar to how they've been handling it in Europe," Morris said. "I think if we do continue on a similar path to how the Europeans have gone, we're going to end up in the same situation, perhaps one to two months down the road."

He said Europe and North America followed a "hammer and dance" approach to COVID-19: hammering the virus with lockdowns, then reopening and dancing around trying to maintain low levels of transmission.

Asian countries, such as Japan and South Korea, adopted a different approach of aggressively testing, tracing and isolating cases, Morris said.

"What they've tried to do is not only beat it down a first time, but really not ever let COVID re-emerge to any degree after that initial hammer."

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Countries across Europe are seeing a resurgence in COVID - 19 cases after successfully slowing outbreaks early in the year. Some countries — such as Albania, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Montenegro, North Macedonia — are seeing higher case numbers than earlier in the year.

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Similar trajectories not set in stone

Dr. Zain Chagla, an associate professor in the department of medicine at McMaster University and an infectious disease physician in Hamilton, agreed that Canada is headed toward a similar trajectory as Europe.

But he cautioned that such international comparisons are difficult to make given the unique aspects of each country that aren't necessarily reflected in the case counts, such as the age and density of the population, as well as ease of travel.

a man wearing a blue shirt: As a way to help persuade Canadians to reduce their contacts, health officials need to let people know more about transmission in their community without invading privacy, says Dr. Zain Chagla, an infectious disease physician in Hamilton. © Craig Chivers/CBC As a way to help persuade Canadians to reduce their contacts, health officials need to let people know more about transmission in their community without invading privacy, says Dr. Zain Chagla, an infectious disease physician in Hamilton.

"It's a scenario, but it's not necessarily our future," Chagla said of applying the European experience here.

But he said Europe's experience of COVID fatigue does offer an important lesson.

"You're getting less and less public buy-in, and it's much more important to get that communication out there and to get the public as a stakeholder," he said.

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The Scandinavian country could “provide lessons for the global community,” a senior World Health In May, the country recorded the most Covid - 19 deaths per capita in Europe . That would largely involve “making responsible populations understand how to protect themselves and protect others”

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Canadian achievements

Chagla said that greater transparency — such as showing chains of transmission of people without invading their privacy — could help persuade Canadians to reduce their contacts, as Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada's chief public health officer, requested on Friday.

Dr. Peter Juni, a professor of epidemiology and medicine at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto, is watching how the pandemic plays out in Canada as well as in his home country, Switzerland.

A deserted Place de la Concorde in Paris is seen on the first day of the second national lockdown in France. Europe and North America took similar approaches to controlling the pandemic, an infectious disease physician says. © Charles Platiau/Reuters A deserted Place de la Concorde in Paris is seen on the first day of the second national lockdown in France. Europe and North America took similar approaches to controlling the pandemic, an infectious disease physician says.

Juni referred to the example of a yodelling concert in rural Switzerland that likely became a superspreading event. He suggested that if Canadian officials tell people how many chains of transmission were traced to a single event, such as a funeral, it could help convey how quickly and easily the virus can spread under certain circumstances.

Canadians could then better gauge what's a high-risk setting, such as closed, poorly ventilated places that are crowded with close-range conversations.

"I think it's important now just to say we actually achieved a lot," Juni said of the spring, summer and fall. "We can continue with that."

Juni said that while the winter will be a long one, he's observed that Canadian culture is rooted in rule following and resilience that could help people weather the COVID-19 storm.

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