COLUMN: COVID-19 is now a pandemic

There are now confirmed 93 cases of COVID-19 in Canada

It has been seven days since my report last week on the subject of the COVID-19 virus.

Since that time the World Health Organization has upgraded the spread of the outbreak, from declaring a public health emergency last week, to now declaring the virus to be a pandemic.

What does a pandemic virus mean?

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A new virus is often described in following three different ways.

Outbreak, which is summarized as an unusual but small virus.

Epidemic, where the virus is growing larger and is spreading.

The term Pandemic applies where the virus has worldwide impacts and is considered out of control.

In terms of numbers, last week there were 33 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Canada with 20 in Ontario, 12 in British Columbia and one in Quebec.

As of today there are now confirmed 93 cases with 36 in Ontario, 39 in British Columbia, four in Quebec and 14 in Alberta.

There has also been the first COVID-19 related death confirmed in a North Vancouver care home.

Some more positive news, of the 36 confirmed cases in Ontario, five have now recovered.

From a global perspective, last week’s numbers showed that the virus had infected close to 90,000 people in 60 countries and killed more than 3,000 people.

As of this week, there have now been nearly 120,000 people in 115 countries infected and more than 4,000 people have died as a result of the virus.

Fortunately it has also been stated that more than 60,000 people have recovered.

What has been the response of the federal government?

The Prime Minister recently announced $1 billion in funding related to the COVID-19 virus.

The majority of the funding will be distributed as follows:

$500 million to provinces and territories, $275 million in research, $100 million in additional public health response, including funding for Indigenous Services Canada and $50 million in international aide.

The remaining funds will be spent in areas such as communications and public education, personal protective equipment, repatriation of Canadians, work sharing and changes to the EI sickness benefits program, intended to waive the usual one week waiting period to obtain EI sickness benefits.

There is also a government general information line at 1-833-784-4397 for Canadians who have any immediate questions about COVID-19.

For clarification purposes, here some measures that other countries are undertaking to further contain the virus that are not being taken in Canada.

Measures such as, vigorous screening processes upon entry, mandatory quarantine for those who do enter from high risk countries or potentially stopping incoming and outgoing flights from high risk areas.

I mention that as there has been some confusion as to what screening efforts exist, or in this case do not exist, here in Canada relative to other countries.

My question this week: Do you think the federal government is doing enough to help prevent the spread of COVID–19 in Canada?

I can be reached at Dan.Albas@parl.gc.ca or call toll free 1-800-665-8711.

Dan Albas is the Member of Parliament for the riding of Central Okanagan Similkameen Nicola. This riding includes the communities of Kelowna, West Kelowna, Peachland, Summerland, Keremeos, Princeton, Merritt and Logan Lake.

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