Letter: We must remain vigilant about maintaining our pandemic safeguards

A second wave and maybe third wave of the coronavirus is imminent and will emerge in the coming months

To the Expositor:

While much attention has been focused on daily briefings from the prime minister, premiers and public health officials, the majority of Canadians have heeded the advised warnings for us to stay home, keep physical distancing in check and stay safe for the sake of ourselves and others, and rightfully so.

However, many Canadians have grown increasingly impatient, becoming less accepting of those recommendations replacing isolation, patience with disobedience and frustration and questioning, when will all of this end and will we ever see any kind of normalcy again?

With local states of emergencies still in place, local physicians, health care professionals are telling, urging visitors not to come to the Island who have summer cottages. With only four portable ventilators available at our two hospital sites, there are no stationary ventilators and with no ICU beds to hospitalize patients, an outbreak would indeed overwhelm the emergency room system and overwhelm the critical care requirements to treat those patients.

Experts believe that a second and even a third wave of the coronavirus is imminent and will emerge in the coming months. If a second wave does indeed hit us, and if restrictions are lifted too quickly, our hospitals will certainly become overwhelmed. Are we ready for a second wave?

While vaccines and trials remain months, if not, years away, becoming complacent and losing our resolve will not be the answer, but remaining vigilant, having patience and protecting ourselves from each other will be the required agenda for a little longer. As we ease into the rebuilding of our economies in cities, towns and First Nations across Canada, a gradual shift in mentalities will at best be a catalyst in bringing hope and prosperity to an unprecedented event.

While the health and safety of First Nations is equally important, particularly those in the northern regions, those First Nations will be more susceptible to COVID-19 and with those who have limited capacity for health facilities and personal protective equipment (PPE) management, such outbreaks would certainly be tragic.

So, governments have more of a fiduciary challenge to protect the innocent, the elderly, and we must hold that safety, that well-being to a higher standard because of the vulnerabilities those First Nations face. Luckily, those projected models and projected numbers have remained low or haven’t materialized as previously suggested by health and government officials, but that could all change in an instant if measures aren’t followed and if attitudes and safeguards change.

If First Nation communities believe in establishing checkpoints, issuing travel bans and in some cases curfews in hopes it will minimize the impact of COVID-19 in their communities, then that’s their safety net and although some checkpoints may not appease municipalities or their politicians, perhaps money will be the answer for them.

Perhaps closing the bridge, establishing a checkpoint from dawn to dusk will be considered an option. A public safety concern for sure. Better to ask MTO and OPP about this one? Will NEMI close its marinas and government docks to boat traffic or will town council entertain large cruise ships this summer or celebrate Haweater Weekend this year or will First Nations celebrate their traditions this year too. Who knows? But I do wish you all good health; stay and be safe, be patient and let science and health data dictate the next move.

Donald J. McGraw

Aundeck Omni Kaning