Currently living in one of the countries most affected by COVID-19, Brent Kowk has this advice for anyone who questions the severity of the virus or the measures in place to prevent its spread: stay put.
Brent and his wife Rose-Marie left Salmon Arm for France in late January for a three-month family visit. Around the same time, the first five cases of COVID-19 in France were identified in Bordeaux.
On March 16, the country was taken into custody for 15 days, which lasted until May 11. In the meantime, the country had registered, on April 17, approximately 165,000 cases of COVID-19; 17,920 people are believed to have died from the virus, while an estimated 32,900 people have recovered.
With the borders closed, the flights canceled and the locking in place, the Kowk remain housed in a small rural community south of Nantes.
Brent, who works at Shuswap Lake General Hospital for maintenance, said that when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called on Canadians to return home as long as they could, Rose-Marie, who is from France and who is also a Canadian citizen, was renewing her passport.
“So I should have left her here and come back alone, so I said no, I’m going to stay,” said Brent.
While the number of COVID-19 cases is higher in the most populated urban areas of France, Brent said that restrictions are applied throughout the country.
“For us to go out, we have to print an” apology form “, I would say, fill it out and then go do what it is,” said Brent, adding that the form must also include the length of your stay. outside. Only one person can go out at a time and, if caught by the police without the form, you could be fined 135 euros (approximately $ 206 CAD).
Brent said the quarantine was put in place after the nation was unable to control the spread of the virus by physical removal. Kowk suggested that mandatory quarantine might have to do with how friendly the French are, greeting each other with a kiss on the cheek or a handshake.
“You can meet someone three times a day and they will shake your hand every time …” said Kowk. “This is how they are right, so it spread pretty quickly once it caught here and it didn’t seem to slow down at all, and that’s when the government finally had to intervene and then quarantine us in our homes. “
However, from what he has seen in the news and on social media, Kowk said efforts to flatten the curve by physical distance and other restrictions appear to be working in Canada.
“It looks like maybe you could end it much sooner than we will because of the big numbers here,” said Kowk. “There are still more than 500 people a day who die here in France from that. And it has dropped dramatically from last week when we had over 1,000 deaths a day. “
Kowk said he and Rose-Marie, who is diabetic, were feeling incredibly stressed by the virus and the way it spread.
“Sure, I got a cold, and it comes to my mind that I have this damn virus and the thing is, it’s not the fact that you have it, it’s who you give it to, ”says Kowk. “My wife … if she gets it, I don’t know if she’ll survive it. I probably would, but you never know. That’s the thing with that, you never know. “
To add to their stress, the impact of COVID-19 in Italy and some of the decisions made on the front lines regarding the most serious cases of infection.
“They were watching … people and saying, I’m sorry, there’s no room for you, and you’re 85, you have kidney disease, you’re probably not going to survive anyway …”, a said Kowk. “This is what they had to do there because they had no place. They had no ventilators, the hospital immediately filled with people. And of course, people in France see that, so it scared everyone a little more … because it’s right down here. “
Kowk said these tough decisions and the stories of sacrifice and loss that went with them were what really impressed the severity of the virus. He advised those who questioned efforts to stop its spread, or who thought that what is happening in France could not happen in Canada, to think again.
“If you take a city, let’s say like Salmon Arm, with 20,000 people, if 50% of people get sick and 20% of them have to be ventilated, there are two ventilators in the Salmon Arm hospital” said Kowk.
“What’s going to happen, right? People will be sent home to die and they will die alone because no family member can go with them. “
“And once you start to see that, it’s easy to sit in your house and watch TV and drink beer. “
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