Viewpoint: Caring for others is crucial

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By DAVID J. RAPPORT

Salt Spring is a caring community. So caring for others in COVID-19 times should come easy here, even if one does not believe that COVID-19 is real or presents any danger to our community.

Just think of it for a moment. Admittedly, it is inconvenient to wear a mask in public and keep physical distance from others. But regardless of one’s beliefs, it is the caring thing to do. It is a small effort that can go a long way to ease anxiety among those who do believe that we are in the midst of a global pandemic that has now reached our community and can prove deadly for both the elderly as well as for anyone with pre-existing health conditions, regardless of age.

Those who deny that COVID-19 is real may need to hear the sad stories in the media about fellow Canadians who have caught it — and the stories of those who have watched their loved ones die from it.  But even if you remain convinced it’s not real, out of concern for fellow islanders who do believe it is, one needs to be compassionate: no matter your age, wear a mask and keep physical distance (indoors and out) to make others feel safe.

And for those who do believe COVID-19 is real, but are tempted to lower their guard because there is light at the end of the tunnel with vaccines on their way, think again. 

For now, the fact is that COVID-19 has been identified on island, and one can safely assume that there are carriers in our midst who are asymptomatic and thus do not know that they are positive for COVID-19. A vaccine “on the way” is of no help today if you should come down with COVID-19. A vaccine “on the way” has been of no help to many dozens of Canadians dying from COVID-19 every day as the prevalence of the virus resurges across the country. 

Until a significant number of islanders are vaccinated — and it will likely take many months and perhaps up to a year from now before everyone who wants the vaccine will be vaccinated — there is only one prudent thing to do:   be ever more watchful as cases ramp up throughout the province and may well ramp up on island as well. This means continuing to be aware, rigorously and at all times, that close contact with anyone not in your immediate household is a risk to all. Wearing a mask in all public places and keeping physical distance is a small sacrifice but a big sign of caring for others — and it may well serve to save lives, including the lives of those one is closest to.

The writer was formerly an honorary professor in the Faculty of Medicine at Western University and a co-founder of its program in Ecosystem Health. He has served as an international consultant on pandemics and pandemic planning to various UN agencies.

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