Is life better in Canada

Coronavirus in Canada and the United States : Why Canada responded better to the pandemic

After the almost total "lockdown" in the corona crisis, Canada is trying to return to a more normal life in slow and small steps, which for many Canadians are too small. Again and again emerging regional trouble spots urge caution. The most daunting example of a hasty opening is the neighboring USA.

In fact, Canada has seen the number of infections rise by a total of only around 10,000 in the past five weeks - from just over 100,000 to around 115,000 cases, around 306 cases per 100,000 population. Nationwide in June, there were only 300 to 400 new infections per day. At the beginning of July there were even fewer. At the end of April, at the peak of Canada's corona crisis, there were over 2000 new infections every day, in some cases even more. Between 160 and 180 new Covid-19-related deaths were reported daily over a period of several weeks.

Trudeau has an ear for the experts

But the collapse of the health system feared at the beginning of the crisis was avoided. The USA, with a population eight times the size, has so far recorded a total of 4.1 million infections - 1191 infections per 100,000 inhabitants.

Around 145,000 deaths related to Covid-10 infections have been recorded. In Canada, on the other hand, 8,908 people had died in connection with Covid-19 as of Wednesday. Currently, there are only a few deaths every day.

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While US President Donald Trump regularly disregards the advice of health experts and lacks a strategy, in Canada politics, health authorities and medical professionals largely moved in lockstep. Trudeau always referred to the advice of experts in his decisions, the virus was not instrumentalized in party politics.

Conservative and liberally led provinces work together with the federal government. Once a week the heads of government of the 13 provinces and territories confer with Trudeau on a telephone line.

Canada issued strict corona rules early on

Canada went very far with its “lockdown” in mid-March. It affected all sectors - business, schools, daycare and public services. Even when it became foreseeable that the worst scenarios would not become reality, most provinces hesitated for a long time before starting the "reopening". With the exception of Québec, schools were closed everywhere before the summer break.

Unrestricted travel has not yet been possible within Canada: the four Atlantic provinces have created a "bubble" and only allow tourism among themselves. Anyone coming from other provinces must first be quarantined.

In large parts of the most populous province of Ontario, restaurants are now allowed to serve guests not only on their terraces, but also inside. Toronto and a few other cities in the southwest of the province that still have slightly higher infection rates will have to wait until the provincial government gives them the green light for further relief. Health experts are concerned about the fact that some provinces allow not only restaurants but also pubs and bars to be operated indoors.

In fact, the current figures should be treated with caution. In several Canadian provinces, authorities are alarmed by the rise in new infections.

"There is a risk of an explosive increase if we are not careful," said British Columbia's chief health officer Bonnie Henry. After more than 100 new infections last weekend, she warned against taking corona measures back. Nationwide, 770 new infections were reported on July 20.

A total of 488 new cases were registered in the neighboring province of Alberta from Thursday to Sunday. For the first time since the beginning of May, the number of new infections every day exceeded 100.

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This could be a sign that the population is becoming "complacent," said the province's chief medical officer, Deena Hinshaw. The extremely hot summer in many parts of the country lets people flock to parks and lakes. "Social distancing", which authorities and politicians repeatedly warn, is difficult. The images of overcrowded beaches and parks shocked some politicians.

Many deaths are due to retirement and nursing homes

Despite "hotspots" flaring up again and again: Canadians can currently enter the EU without restrictions. Measured against the total population of 38 million inhabitants, the approximately 8900 deaths are a high figure. The often poorly equipped old people's and nursing homes, which were not prepared for the crisis, reported almost 7,000 cases.

It was particularly bad in Quebec. The tragedies that played out in the nursing homes, where old people died in isolation from their loved ones, provided harrowing images and stories. Canadians hope it will lead to a complete reorientation in the care of the elderly in Canada.

In retrospect, failures at the start of the crisis in February and until mid-March prevented Canada from getting through the crisis even better. Even the head of the health authority did not see the seriousness of the situation Canada could be confronted with in February. In mid-March, Health Minister Patty Hajdu doubted the sense of travel restrictions, which were then put into effect a few days later.

And the use of face masks was debated in Canada to the last. It was only hesitantly that it became compulsory to wear masks in closed rooms. The fact that the daily number of cases is rising again at the end of July - in some cases there are around 700 new infections per day and thus almost as many as last in Germany with its more than 80 million inhabitants - could lead to the measures being tightened.

The fact that the extensive closure of the border with the USA has now been extended by another month to August 21 is met with great approval. Canadians don't want Americans to bring the virus in. But Canadians are also looking at the “hotspots” in their country with a fearful look. Laboriously achieved successes should not be undone.

Howard Njoo, deputy chief of the Canadian health authority, warned on Tuesday: "We only need a few sparks to fall behind and create a situation we no longer want to be in."

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