Editorial teaser

Empathy is critical

We are not trying to be alarmist, but it is here, and it is spreading.

We have heard a lot in recent weeks about flattening the curve.

This is all about slowing down the spread of the COVID-19 virus, which is inevitable, and reducing the overall number of cases, which is possible with due diligence.

It cannot be overstated how important flattening the curve is. While COVID-19 is neither the most virulent nor deadly virus humanity has encountered, it’s a bad one and it becomes so much more dangerous if the health system becomes overwhelmed, as we have seen from the experience of Italy and Spain.

All the cancellations, closures and personal, social and hygiene measures are disruptive to life, but are more than necessary.

Without universal testing, there is no way of knowing how many people have the virus because there is a lag between infection and reporting of confirmed cases. For example, on March 12, some estimates in the U.K. suggested the number of actual cases versus confirmed was as much as 20-to-one. By March 21, Britain had gone from 590 total cases to more than 5,000.

Canada’s curve is eerily similar and B.C. is leading the way. We have very few confirmed cases in northern B.C., but you can bet there are many more yet unconfirmed.

We are not trying to be alarmist, but it is here, and it is spreading.

The good news is the community appears to be pulling together to get through this challenging time as safely as possible and delay the spread so health providers will be able to respond effectively.

Kudos to everyone for doing their part and especially to those on the front lines, who continue to provide essential services, medical professionals and emergency personnel, of course, but also truckers, grocery store workers, Town employees and postal workers, just to name a few.

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For those who have not yet gotten the message, it is time to step up, if not for your own sake, for that of your neighbours.

We should also bear in mind that everybody’s personal reaction is governed by their own life experience, circumstances and level of risk.

Everyone is anxious, but not necessarily about the same things. Just because one person chooses to completely quarantine, while another chooses to carry on while taking appropriate precautions as prescribed by the health authorities, does not make either the enemy.

The watchword for these times, and all times for that matter, should be to be kind. Everybody reacts to crises differently and it is important that everybody feels comfortable.

Empathy is critical.

When this is all over, and it will be over, may we remember the important lessons learned. We were more prepared for COVID-19 than we were for SARS; may we be more prepared for the next one.

And may we never take for granted the social closeness we normally enjoy; a warm handshake with a new acquaintance, the camaraderie of a crowded arena, an intimate conversation over dinner in a restaurant.


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