Right in the centre - Better information needed


By Ken Waddell

Neepawa Banner & Press

think we need to realize that the COVID-19 situation is real, but it shouldn’t be as scary as the media and government make it out to be. To listen to the media, one would assume that the world is coming to an end very soon. The world is not coming to an end, at least not due to C-19 or Donald Trump or Justin Trudeau.

Most people realize that COVID-19 is a flu that can be fatal, but usually only to people who are already sick. People can get it without symptoms and at the other extreme, relatively healthy people have been known to die. C-19 is a serious situation, for sure, but some perspective is needed, perspective more than fear.

Manitoba stats show that there have been eight C-19 deaths since it became apparent in March of this year. Over a 20 year average, around 10,000 people die of all causes per year. It’s actually closer to 11,000 deaths per year in 2019, as the population grows. So even if the C-19 death rate continues, the number of deaths due to COVID-19 is still very, very small in Manitoba.

To the credit of the Manitoba government, Manitoba Health and all Manitobans, C-19 has been handled pretty well.

Manitoba has benefited from being fairly thinly populated, even sparsely populated in many areas. Our care homes are pretty well run and they know how to handle a flu outbreak. The C-19 events will no doubt sharpen the focus on how to best care for the elderly and vulnerable. Borders should be kept closed for travel to and from C-19 hotspots for a while longer. That makes sense.

In Manitoba, events should be allowed, with precautions. Schools and universities should be fully opened up. In my opinion, it’s silly to anticipate that students should have to wear masks. Washing hands is good, not being in each other’s face (literally) is also a good thing. Stay home if you are sick and if a parent doesn’t have care available at home for a sick kid, then there needs to be arrangements in the workplace so a parent can stay home if at all possible.

I do wish that the official C-19 reporting was more precise, but let it be first said that no matter how many C-19 cases are reported, it’s the hospitalizations that really matter. The number of cases in Manitoba that have been hospitalized has been minimal. The number of positive tests per 100 tests has been minimal.

What is needed is location. The province screwed up a bit by not saying where cases were located. That should have been done from the outset. To say that a case happened in Prairie Mountain Health Region is silly. PMH stretches from the US border to Swan River and from Arden to the Saskatchewan border. It would have been much better to announce where cases actually happened. If, for example, a case happened in Reston, there is little need for anyone from Dauphin to be concerned about possible contact.

When a PMH case was announced, everyone was placed into fear mode and that was unnecessary. Some businesses have been named and that may be helpful so that people who might have had contact can be on the alert for symptoms. Instead of naming some businesses and some Hutterite colonies, the province should have named every case location by town.

I have a lot more faith in the so-called herd immunity than I do in a potential vaccine. We know that people do build up immunity to viruses. What should be questioned is how effective are flu vaccines. Reports on their effectiveness varies greatly. Vaccine development is a game of guesswork at best.

C-19 is by no means the biggest threat to life, not even close. It’s time to do all that is practical, but the current over-reaching is not always helpful. It is actually proving to be harmful in many cases, be it medically or psychologically.

Disclaimer: The writer serves as a volunteer chair of the Manitoba Community Newspaper Association. The views expressed in this column are the writer’s personal views and are not to be taken as being  the view of the MCNA board or Banner & Press staff.