Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

A sign for washing hands is seen during a news media tour of quarantine facilities for treating novel coronavirus at Jewish General Hospital in Montreal, Quebec, Canada March 2, 2020. Doctors and nurses are our most valuable resource, and our capacity to protect them is still behind the curve.

Christinne Muschi/Reuters

It’s Week 2 of Canada’s war against COVID-19. Unfortunately, it’s Month 2 of the virus’s fight against us. We have some catching up to do.

Here’s what’s needed to bring us closer to this war’s end.

More social distancing

The steps Canadians are taking are having an impact. However, some people are still bending the rules, or ignoring them.

Story continues below advertisement

If you have symptoms of illness, do not leave your home for 14 days. If you are one of the thousands of Canadians just returned from overseas, do not leave your home for 14 days. And even if you are not sick and have not travelled, unless you work in an essential industry, stay at home.

No gatherings of any size. No non-essential businesses. Self-quarantine rules for travellers should be orders, not requests. Social solidarity around the need for social distancing is strong. Reinforce it.

It would help if Canada had one clear national standard on this, and one clear message. The country’s health ministers should be able to agree to that with a single phone call.

Canada is behind the curve, and unless Canadians fully embrace physical distancing, we cannot catch up to the virus.

However, though social distancing is crucial, it can’t be sustained forever. We need another weapon, which eventually will allow us to restart the economy, while keeping the virus pinned to the mat. South Korea is the model. The key to their success? Testing.

More testing

“You cannot fight a fire blindfolded,” the head of the World Health Organization, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said last week. “And we cannot stop this pandemic if we don’t know who is infected. We have a simple message for all countries: test, test, test. Test every suspected case. If they test positive, isolate them and find out who they have been in close contact with up to two days before they developed symptoms, and test those people too.”

That is what South Korea has done. After an initial spike, they have not only flattened the curve, but bent it down.

Story continues below advertisement

Canada’s testing gap is illustrated by the case of Sean Cunnington, a 51-year old from Milton, Ont. He died on March 18, but the test result confirming that he had the virus did not arrive until 10 hours later.

The level of COVID-19 testing in this country is already considerably higher than in the United States, and capacity is ramping up. Nevertheless, it’s clear that this country needs to be able to test more, and quickly process results.

As of Sunday morning, Ontario had performed more than 26,000 tests since the start of the outbreak – but more than 8,000 were listed as “currently under investigation,” meaning the results were still pending.

Governments must pour resources into this. We do not have to test everyone in Canada. But we have to be able to test everyone with symptoms, and those in contact with them. We have to test more in vulnerable locations where infection can spread, such as homeless shelters and seniors homes. And we must be able to test more health-care workers, so they remain able to work, without becoming vehicles for propagation of the virus.

Our testing capacity is still behind the curve.

More PPE

In Spain, it was reported on Sunday that 3,500 doctors and other health-care workers had tested positive for the virus. The goal for Canada is to keep that number as close as possible to zero. Doing so is not rocket science. It’s largely a matter of age-old hospital protocols – including enough personal protective equipment, or PPE.

Story continues below advertisement

PPE includes basic disposable materials such as rubber gloves and gowns and, for this fight, face masks and higher-tech items such as face shields and respirator masks. Doctors and hospitals have been sounding the alarm, and asking others – from dentists to construction sites – to donate whatever they have.

Canada needs to ramp up production, quickly. Governments should be issuing big PPE contracts. At the end of the epidemic, hospitals will hopefully have more PPE than they know what to do with. We can use it to build a giant pile of installation art, a national monument to Canada’s overpreparedness.

But right now, we’re insufficiently prepared. Without healthy health-care workers, all the ventilators in the world are useless. Doctors and nurses are our most valuable resource, and our capacity to protect them is still behind the curve.

Sign up for the Coronavirus Update newsletter to get the day’s most essential COVID-19 news, features and explainers delivered to your inbox each evening

Coronavirus information
Coronavirus information
The Zero Canada Project provides resources to help you manage your health, your finances and your family life as Canada reopens.
Visit the hub

In the interests of public health and safety, our coronavirus news articles are free for anyone to access. However, The Globe depends on subscription revenue to support our journalism. If you are able, please subscribe to globeandmail.com. If you are already a subscriber, thank you for your support.

Your subscription helps The Globe and Mail provide readers with critical news at a critical time. Thank you for your continued support. We also hope you will share important coronavirus news articles with your friends and family. In the interest of public health and safety, all our coronavirus news articles are free for anyone to access.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies