Political treatment

A recent article in the Edmonton Journal compares the responses to the COVID-19 virus of Canada and Taiwan.

Early in January, Taiwanese officials started taking strict precautionary measures. Soon they were screening all arrivals and placing under mandatory monitored quarantine, those who showed any symptoms. Not abiding by quarantine resulted in a fine equivalent to $10,000.  As a result, Taiwan has a low number of cases, all from persons coming into the country with no community spread from person to person as there has been in Canada. Their schools and businesses are still open.

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Toward the middle of January, Canada started advising incoming travelers to voluntarily self-isolate for fourteen days with little more than messages on signs, electronic kiosks and pamphlets in arrival areas.  For the next two months, that was basically the extent of our response because, as Canada’s chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam put it, they were concerned about “racism, discrimination and stigmatizing language.” We were assured that the health risk to Canadians was low and the government was taking all necessary precautions. It was the middle of March before they suddenly decided to close our borders to all non-Canadians (except for illegal migrants who continued to enter until Quebec protested).

We cannot know how badly the pandemic will affect the health of Canadians, but we do know that the resultant economic shutdown cannot be allowed to continue much longer without horrendous consequences. In the U.S., President Donald Trump has mused that he would love to see things return to normal by Easter (wouldn’t we all!) and they are considering gradually restarting certain segments of the economy. There are many areas that are basically untouched by the virus which should be able to operate safely if precautions are taken. As well those who have recovered should be free to work, again with precautions. For this he has been roundly condemned by Democrats and the media. However far-left Democrat Governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo has suggested the same ideas, almost word for word, for which he received warm praise from the same sources. 

New York has a drastic rate of infections, half of all cases in the US.  At the end of January, Trump had banned travel from China and called for social distancing, for which he was called racist, xenophobic and bigoted by the Democrats and media. The chief health officer for New York said he was fear mongering with false information and called on citizens to ignore him.  The New York City mayor also urged people to gather in large groups in defiance.  This could explain why they have such a high rate of infection.

There is a considerable amount of anecdotal evidence from both patients and doctors that the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine is an effective treatment and Trump ordered that it be fast-tracked for approval to see if it will actually help. For this too he was roundly condemned for “giving medical advice” and offering false hope. But be honest, if you or your loved ones lives were in danger, would you ask your doctor for it? Yes you would, you would demand it. Would he prescribe it?  I don’t know, but I do know that if his or her loved ones were in danger, they wouldn’t hesitate to give it to them. No doctor in the world is so callous that he would allow them to die, knowing he might have the ability to save them.

The drug is cheap, plentiful, has no side effects and has been in use for 75 years. With hundreds of thousands of lives at stake, it would be immoral not to try it. Cuomo agrees and it is currently being tried in New York.  

Apparently B.C.’s health officials also agree, because it is now being tried at the Lynn Valley Health Centre. It would seem Trump had the right idea after all, though some would have a hard time admitting it. Hopefully it will live up to its billing.

One would hope that at a time of crisis like this, people would abandon political correctness and political games, but sadly that seems not to be the case.

Art Betke

Prince George


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