Much of Canadian residents were glued to the nightly news to hear how the virus reached pandemic proportions and indicating no signs of slowing down. Early on, the pandemic was something unimaginable to society, especially here in Canada. What started as one or two infected individuals has spread across the country, bringing the economy and our livelihood to its knees.
The longer the pandemic continues and the more restrictions enforced, it will continue having a negative impact on people’s behaviour. It's human nature that when pushed for long periods, eventually, they push back. Some feel the health restrictions are an infringement on their fundamental rights and freedoms, and others believe the government is over-reacting, stating it's a typical flu virus. Everyone has their own opinions and beliefs; that’s the great part about being Canadian. They can choose to believe the COVID-19 virus is real or say it’s just a flu bug. Whether it's the general flu or a much more severe strain, they can both become deadly.
When comparing the numbers across Canada, it brings about an interesting point. All provinces have implemented similar health restrictions across the board concerning mask-wearing and social distancing. Some provinces are in lockdown, while others have tight restrictions and partial closures. When looking at the overall picture, the current case numbers don’t reflect the government’s efforts to slow the spread. As of December 29, 2020, Statistics Canada shows in B.C., there were 7,580 active cases out of the provinces' 5,020,302 population. Alberta has a population of 4,345,737, and out of that, there are 99,141 active cases. Saskatchewan is sitting at 2,371 cases for a population of 1,168,423, and Manitoba has a province count of 1,360,396 people, of which 4,424 have the virus. Moving further east is Quebec, with 21,125 cases out of its 2019 census of 8,443,301 people. Ontario, which has the largest population out of all the provinces with 14,446,515 people, was sitting at 178,831 cases of COVID last week. Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Newfoundland have much smaller populations, anywhere from 500,000 to under one million, and show the highest active case sitting at 33 people. Lastly, for the provinces is Prince Edward Island. While it is relatively small, with only a population of 154,748, its current case count is sitting at a mere six individuals.
The question has been raised many times about the number of flu cases dropping off to almost non-existence this year. That may be true, but as health officials have indicated, the COVID-19 virus is the flu virus; it's just a different strain. It would be no different than the Spanish Flu, SARS, or the swine flu. These were the typical flu bug; only the genetics changed, which created a more potent strain. Again to compare, the regular flu was responsible for 8,511 Canadians dying in 2018, and in 2019, there were 6,893 reported deaths. The COVID-19 flu virus killed 15,440 Canadians in 2020.
The COVID-19 virus and pandemic have consumed much of the past year, and many are thankful 2020 it's over. As the calendar rolls over, everyone's hoping for a better year ahead. There's still a lot of uncertainty for what the next six months will bring as far as health restrictions and if or when life will return to normal once the vaccine is offered to the general public.
Vicki Winger, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Whitecourt Press