You could say that the COVID-19 pandemic, first written about in this newspaper in late January, before testing for the novel coronavirus began in Manitoba, got real when the first positive test was recorded, or the first death, or when schools shut down late last March. But for Thompson, it seems, the reality of the pandemic really hit home in the second and third weeks of October.
Sure, that wasn’t when the Thompson/Mystery Lake health district had its first cases of COVID-19, though we didn’t know that we had two back in early April until well after the fact. But that was followed by a long period with no new cases, which some might say led to complacency. Even when the third case was announced Oct. 5, some may have shrugged it off as a one-time thing, not an indicator of a trend.
All the comfort of having only one case here, another there disappeared on Thanksgiving Day, when the provincial government announced four new cases in the Thompson area and then one more on each of the following days. In a little more than a week, Thompson went from having only two cases since the pandemic began to having nine, more than any other health district in the Northern Regional Health Authority has had, and, as of Oct. 20, had nine active cases and 10 recoveries. A trend is starting and not reacting appropriately could see it continue in the wrong direction or even get worse, a situation no one wants.
So what is the appropriate reaction? First of all, it isn’t to blame anyone for contracting the virus. COVID-19 is a new coronavirus variation that none of us have immunity to yet, except those who have had it already – maybe, so it is bound to infect people. Fear is also not the correct reaction. For most of us, COVID-19 will be like having a cold, though for some of us it will prove to be much more severe. Recently, a man in his 40s died of the virus in Manitoba, the youngest person to have lost their life due to COVID-19 in the province.
As it has been since the beginning of the pandemic, the appropriate reaction is to take all reasonable precautions to protect yourself against the virus and maybe take it even a few steps further if you or someone you know has underlying conditions that make them more vulnerable to severe outcomes if they get infected. Wash your hands. Try to keep at least two metres away from people who don’t live in your household. Only go out shopping when it’s necessary, don’t go to stores in couples or as a family if you can avoid it and, when you are in public, wear a mask, especially if you can’t stay at least six feet away from other people. And make sure to cover your nose. While masks are believed to be primarily useful in preventing the wearer’s respiratory droplets from getting in other people’s nose, mouth and eyes, common sense says that if your nose is hanging out, it won’t do that and it might make it easier for the virus to enter your respiratory tract as well.
COVID-19 was never something we could stay free of, or beat into submission, but the smart move is still to do as much as you can to avoid being infected, or to put getting infected off for as long as you can, if only to ensure that the medical system isn’t overburdened. The virus is here. Get used to it and adjust your behaviour accordingly.