Congratulations, Ottawa. You’ve done everything you’ve been asked to do in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, including your willingness to adhere to not one, but two stay-at-home orders, the last of which lasted nearly two months. And for your efforts you’re about to be hit by yet another lockdown. That’s if Dr. Peter Jüni gets his way.
Never heard of him? You’re not alone. He’s another unelected expert who has a say in how we live our lives during the current pandemic.
Dr. Jüni is the scientific director of Ontario’s COVID-19 Science Table. The Science Table is a thinktank of sorts that operates independently from the provincial government in analyzing and evaluating emerging evidence relevant to the COVID-19 pandemic and reports their findings back to the Ministry of Health and the Premier’s office.
Apparently, Dr. Jüni is advocating for a province-wide lockdown to prevent the spread of the B.1.1.7 UK variant. He also believes the lockdown needs to be “firmer than before”. Although, what he means by “firmer” is not clear. He also doesn’t give any insight into how long another lockdown should last.
Of course this is all madness. While his team contends that the reproduction rate of the UK variant is 1.24, there is little evidence that’s the case in Ottawa where the overall reproduction rate has remained below 1.10 since Jan. 10 and the weekly seven-day average currently sits at 0.98.
The province needs to stick to its current colour-coded system which seems to be working just fine. It rewards those regions that are doing a good job in containing the spread of the virus and penalizes those regions that aren’t.
I’m sure the folks in Brockville, Kingston and Belleville will be thrilled to hear about the threat of another province-wide lockdown. All three cities are currently in the green zone, which means their weekly incidence rate is less than 10 per 100,000 and their positivity rate is less than 0.5 per cent.
People need to stay calm, continue to wear a mask, social distance and avoid large gatherings outside their bubble. In the meantime, we need to step up vaccinations. On Wednesday, the provincial government announced that it would start administering the AstraZeneca vaccine to people age 60 to 64 at pharmacies in Toronto, Windsor-Essex and Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington. The vaccines are currently being offered as part of a pilot project, but it will be expanded to other regions when more of the AstraZeneca vaccine becomes available.
By now, almost every long-term care and retirement home resident in Ottawa has been fully vaccinated along with a sizable number of senior care staff members and designated primary caregivers. The importance of having every long-term care and retirement home resident vaccinated cannot be overstated. It will greatly reduce both the number of hospitalizations and the number of deaths, which were the two main reasons we went into the earlier lockdowns.
So keep calm. Vaccine on. And stop the madness.