I had an entire update written up last week around the situation around the world, but to be honest, it seemed a bit boring, so I didn’t post it. Things are proceeding more or less as expected, with the German speaking countries kicking ass while southern Europe is starting to see the light of day. I thought I would concentrate closer to home, and write something when there was something of note to write about. Well today, for the first time since this pandemic hit Ontario, we’ve actually seen a decrease in active cases!
How has that been missed in the headlines? Well, everyone likes to concentrate on the scary new cases number, which in this case came in at a relatively unremarkable 437, but 491 people recovered and 24 died, which means the number of confirmed active cases dropped today by 78. This active case count is important because these are the people currently known to be infected and able to infect others. If this continues to trend down, all else equal, eventually new cases will as well.
We’ve come a long way, and the good news is this is not due to some trickery with reduced or inadequate testing. The number of tests being done per day has more than doubled since mid-month with the province getting its act together.
While the rate of positives coming out of those tests has dropped.
If there is a Goldilocks scenario when it comes to COVID, this is pretty much it. Having said that, it’s all because of the social distancing measures in place, and the scaring of the general public. This can and will reverse rapidly should anything be relaxed, or should people become less afraid, and we’ve seen the return of the spread happen in both BC and Alberta over the past week.
So where to from here? I do expect the active cases to continue falling, and in fact the fall should accelerate over the next couple of weeks. We will likely be talking about relaxing some rules around the middle of May, but I really think we need to learn the lessons of other countries that have done this successfully. I know many do not want to hear this, but in every country where the rules were relaxed, but the virus did not come back, there was some type of electronic/phone based contact tracing in place. In countries where the rules were relaxed without such tracing the virus has come back with a vengeance. Once we are down to double digits of new cases we can relax most restrictions, but we have to quickly and efficiently isolate each new case and all their contacts. There is no way this can be done without technology the old fashioned way. Interviewing people and then alerting contacts is simply much too slow and too unreliable.
I understand the privacy concerns, and the fact that this is an infringement upon our rights and freedoms, but it will be a choice between phone tracing or being quarantined for 18 months. I would count quarantine as a far more intrusive infringement on my rights and freedoms. There is also the reality that most people have “location services” on in either their Android or iPhone, which is far more intrusive than what is being suggested for contract tracing, and I would argue seeing reviews on a new local restaurant has less value than being able to return to normal’ish life.
Anyway, here is a good article on this topic, Apple and Google address privacy concerns on contact tracing, and let me know what you think in the comments section. Would you be willing to enable contact tracing if it means you can get back to normal life sooner?
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