Why Canada responded better to the pandemic

In slow and small steps, too small for many Canadians, Canada tries to return to a more normal life after the almost total “lockdown” in the corona crisis. Again and again emerging regional trouble spots call for caution. The most daunting example of a rash opening is the neighboring country USA.

In fact, Canada has seen an overall increase in infection numbers of only around in the past five weeks . 000 seen – of just over 100. 000 now around 115 . 000 cases, about 306 cases per 100. 000 residents . Every day in June only 300 came to 400 New infections added. 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, sometimes even more. Over a period of several weeks, between 160 and 180 new deaths related to Covid- 19.

Trudeau has an ear for the experts

But the collapse of the healthcare system feared at the beginning of the crisis was avoided . The USA, with a population eight times as large, has a total of over 4.1 million infections to date – 1191 Infections per 100. 000 residents.

Round 145. 000 Dead people related to Covid – 10 – infections have been recorded. In Canada, however, died until Wednesday 8908 people related to Covid – 19. There are currently only a few deaths every day.

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While US President Donald Trump regularly disregards the advice of health experts and misses a strategy, in Canada politics, health authorities and medical professionals have largely moved in step. Trudeau always referred to the advice of the experts in his decisions, the virus was not exploited politically.

Conservative and liberal-run provinces work together with the federal government. Once a week the heads of government of the 13 Provinces and territories in one phone booth with Trudeau.

Canada issued strict corona rules early on

Canada went very far with its lockdown in mid-March. It affected all sectors – business, schools, day care centers and public services. Even when it was foreseeable that the worst scenarios would not become reality, most provinces hesitated for a long time before the “reopening” started. Schools were closed everywhere except for Québec before the summer holidays.

Unrestricted travel has not yet been possible within Canada: The four Atlantic provinces have created a “bubble” and only allow tourism among themselves. Anyone who comes from other provinces must first be in quarantine.

Kanadas Premierminister Justin Trudeau.

Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Photo: Reuters / Blair Gable

In large parts of the most populous province of Ontario, restaurants can now serve guests not only on their terraces, but also inside. Toronto and some other cities in the southwest of the province, which have slightly higher infection numbers, still have to wait until they receive the green light from the provincial government for further relief. Health experts are concerned about the fact that some provinces not only allow restaurants, but also pubs and bars to be operated internally.

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,” warns the head of the British Health Department Columbia, Bonnie Henry. After more than 100 new infections last weekend she warned against taking corona measures back. Nationwide were on 20. July even 770 new infections reported.

In the neighboring province of Alberta from Thursday to Sunday, a total of 488 new cases registered. For the first time since the beginning of May, the number of daily new infections exceeded 100.

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This could be a sign that the population is “complacent”, said the chief medical officer of the province, Deena Hinshaw. The extremely hot summer in many parts of the country allows people to flow in parks and lakes. “Social distancing”, which authorities and politicians are constantly warning, is difficult. The images of crowded beaches and parks shocked some politicians.

Many deaths carry old people's homes 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 Millions of inhabitants are the 8900 deaths a high value. Almost 7000 cases were reported by the often poorly equipped retirement and nursing homes that were not prepared for the crisis.

It was particularly bad in Québec. The tragedies that took place in the nursing homes, where old people died isolated from their relatives, provided harrowing images and stories. The Canadians hope that they will lead to a complete reorientation in the care of older people in Canada.

Kanadische Touristenboote (unteres Schiff) an den Niagarafällen dürfen nur bis zu sechs Personen mitnehmen, US-amerikanische Boote (oberes Schiff) dürfen bis zu 50 Prozent ausgelastet sein.

Canadian tourist boats (lower ship) at the Niagara Falls are only allowed to take up to six people, US boats … Photo: Carlos Osorio / Reuters

In retrospect, failures at the beginning of the crisis in February and until mid-March prevented Canada from getting through the crisis even better. Even in February, the head of the health authority did not see the seriousness of the situation with which Canada could face. In mid-March, Health Minister Patty Hajdu still doubted the meaning of travel restrictions, which then came into force a few days later.

And the meaning of face masks has been debated in Canada until the very end. Mask wear was only slowly introduced in closed rooms. That the daily case numbers increase again at the end of July – sometimes there are around 700 New infections and thus almost as many as last in Germany with its more than 80 Millions of inhabitants – could lead to the measures being tightened.

That the extensive closure of the US border is now another month until 21. August was extended, met with great approval. The Canadians do not want Americans to introduce the virus. The Canadians also look at the “hotspots” in their country with fearful eyes. Achievements that have been painstakingly achieved should not be destroyed.

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 in which we no longer want to be. “