Diane Francis: Canada does better than most countries to deal with coronavirus

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In a dark world, Canadians are luckier than most, according to an overview of global statistics released this week by the Worldometer website. Statistics show that, to date, Canada has performed relatively well throughout this pandemic, thanks to the fact that the country is organized, that its population is disciplined and that its health system is among the best in the world. world.

As a result, the number of deaths from coronaviruses in Canada is relatively small as of April 8, but still totals 12 tragic deaths per million. (What is curious is that deaths in Quebec are much higher – 20 deaths per million).

That aside, many other countries are faring much worse, according to daily statistics. The 12 deaths per million in Canada compare to 28 deaths per million in Germany, 45 in America, 79 in Sweden, 105 in the United Kingdom, 167 in France, 292 in Italy and 326 in Spain. with four deaths per million, and Australia with only two.

These numbers are not static and will increase daily until a vaccine is found, which is most likely in at least 12 months. The good news is that there appear to be around 20 promising compounds and ongoing experiments that are redirecting existing drugs that have proven to be effective in fighting other diseases. This can speed up the discovery of an effective treatment.

But healing the economy is another problem and the good news is that ubiquitous testing can get people back to work as soon as possible. But testing is the key.

Germany is the leader and already runs 50,000 tests a day (by comparison, the best Canadian province is Alberta, which, at its peak, administered 4,000 tests a day and plans to expand the tests). Globally, South Korea is the best in its class and has flattened the viral curve dramatically through testing, quarantine and retesting.

Companies and countries are now fighting to produce millions of test kits that can diagnose the disease quickly and accurately.

Currently, tests are needed to protect front-line workers and the elderly, but also, at random, to identify individuals, buildings or neighborhoods that are hot spots. Finally, tests must become compulsory and infected people must be relocated to empty hotels or dormitories under medical supervision, because, as we have seen in Italy and elsewhere, allowing infected people to stay at home allows the disease to spread. families and neighborhoods.

Tests must also be accompanied by a strict identification system, online or otherwise. This is necessary to revive the economy. In such a system, people who do not suffer from the disease would have the right to return to work, reopen their businesses, get on the bus, babysit, volunteer, teach and go. at school, gather in restaurants and parks, etc. in an economy that currently has little pulse.

The fact that this disease can be incubated for a period of time means that the retest must also be part of the process. To do this, many countries have established thousands of outdoor test sites behind folding screens, or in parking lots or pharmacies. The good news is that the vast majority of those who test positive recover without hospitalization.

Alberta administered more tests per capita than most countries and focused primarily on people with symptoms, the elderly and front-line workers.

Another positive development is the creation or production of numerous test devices. An American pharmaceutical giant ships a portable rapid test device that diagnoses people in five minutes.

But the silver lining in this cloud is that tens of millions of doctors, scientists and technologists around the world are rushing to find vaccines and treatments. They are conducting tens of thousands of experiments and sharing information like never before, and governments have accelerated approvals for clinical trials. That means one or two game changers will surface sooner rather than later.

Meanwhile, Canada, with its disciplined population, supportive governments and excellent centralized health care systems, remains one of the best in its class to deal with the coronavirus to date.

Financial Post

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