Tue | May 11, 2021

COVID mismanagement putting millions at risk

Published:Tuesday | April 20, 2021 | 12:21 AM

THE EDITOR, Madam:

Nobody has ever referred to me as a maniacal monarchist, having spent many moons considering media obsession with the vicissitudes at Buckingham Palace as completely overblown and frequently worthy of ridicule. However, the Windsor family deserves admiration for how Prince Philip’s funeral was handled last week. They set an example and followed COVID-19 protocols and restrictions, with only 30 people allowed at a funeral; discouraging the British public from gathering en masse, as would be normal for such an occasion.

I caught reports of the funeral on Saturday’s newscasts. The converted pickup truck which served as a hearse was noteworthy, as were other stories on the news that day. Namely, huge numbers of new COVID-19 cases and deaths sweeping across India, coinciding with the Hindu festival of Kumbh Mela, which lasts for two months, when devotees travel to the Haridwar in northern Indian state of Uttarakhand to bathe in the Ganges. Last week, over three million participated in one day, all believing that a dip in the holy river will cleanse their sins and bring salvation; and at the weekend, India’s daily COVID-19 count topped 200,000 for the first time. No apparent restrictions from governments in the subcontinent, where huge election rallies are also being held, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi leading the campaign in the eastern Indian state of West Bengal.

The sun came out in Canada last week, and social distancing was forgotten as beaches were filled in several locations around British Columbia at the weekend. Not quite on the scale that was seen in Haridwar, but still alarming to view on television when variants are running wild in many provinces, causing authorities to reinstate some restrictions not seen since the first wave.

Throughout the pandemic, many Canadians have looked across our southern border with that familiar smugness, indicating a silent superiority over our neighbours, but Canada is now registering more cases per million population than the United States. With only 22 per cent of Canadians having received their first inoculation, the variants are outpacing vaccination rates. They spread faster than the original virus; one comes from Brazil, where President Jair Bolsonaro is a COVID-19 denier with total disregard for pandemic protocols, and who makes former US President Trump look like a Nervous Nellie. The variant from India has a double mutation; a timely reminder that no country in the world is safe until people in all countries across the world are fully vaccinated.

We should listen very carefully, closely following all suggested protocols laid out by our provincial health authorities, and avoid treading in the dangerous footprints of the likes of Modi and Bolsonaro.

BERNIE SMITH

Parksville, BC

Canada