Letters March 26: Better to be accused of overreacting; editorial was irresponsible

Better to be accused of overreacting

Re: “A feeling that we are killing the patient to cure the disease,” editorial March 25.

You are correct in saying that we do not know enough about this disease.

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However the potential ramifications of its unchecked spread have been made clear.

It is advisable to do more now and risk being accused, after the fact, of overreaction than to follow Italy’s lead.

Ultimately it is better to be out of pocket than dead.

Mitch Lavoie

How much is a life worth?

I am uncertain about the intent of the editorial. Was the intention to encourage a reduction on the measures to control the coronavirus pandemic, that have been introduced by Dr. Bonnie Henry and the B.C. Centre for Disease Control, or was it to make comparisons in terms of deleterious outcomes, between the economy and the health of our population?

In terms of the former, any pulling back on measures involving physical separation would certainly lead to a worsening of the rate of spread of the disease.

In terms of the latter, past experience with pandemics shows that we can expect economic recovery by six months after the height of the disease’s impact.

However, the impacts on the health and lives of our population, in particular, our elderly, and those who are otherwise compromised, our doctors, nurses, first responders, and all other health care providers, would be enormous. Indeed, I would ask the editorial writer, “How much is a life worth?”

James Stockdill, MD

Poor timing, poor reasoning

I have read and re-read the editorial opinion in the Times Colonist. I am distressed to read it, and I am deeply disappointed. It is my opinion that the essay is ill-timed, ill-considered, ill-reasoned and even irresponsible.

Ill-timed — because we are now entering the anticipated logarithmic escalation of COVID-19 cases. It is also ill-timed in that the measures imposed and advised by all levels of governments are still relatively novel. After a week or two the novelty will wear off, and the level of distress in society will increase as our hair grows uncut, and our youngsters go uneducated. Now is the time to build morale rather than undermine it.

Ill-considered — my emotion as I read the essay was of increasing anxiety and deepening of depression. Over the years in my family practice I have treated anxiety and depression which is widespread in society. This current situation with so many unknowns and conflicting opinions will exaggerate or exacerbate these conditions beyond tolerance — now is a time for encouraging positive thoughts and attitudes.

Ill-reasoned — the nature of new viruses is that they will sweep over the world — the entire world — in a wave, and it would be no good trying to free up hospital beds when the wave is upon us. “Better safe than sorry” demeans the considered opinions of many distinguished scientists and public health experts.

Irresponsible — it is fair game to criticize our politicians of all stripes in the media. But not when they are mostly unanimous in dealing with an unprecedented situation. They are all, federal, provincial and municipal making very difficult decisions with which they will ultimately be accountable for. Now is not the time to undermine these difficult decisions — on the contrary it is time to admire the leadership of them all.

Chris Pengilly

More testing plus strict quarantines

I agree with the editorial that “We are killing the patient to cure the disease.” Many people in British Columbia are going to lose their jobs and their businesses if the current closure of non-essential services and schools continues for months.

I think that widespread testing and strictly quarantining anyone who is positive for COVID-19, as has been done successfully in Taiwan and South Korea, is the most effective solution.

Up to 75 per cent of people with COVID-19 have no or minimal symptoms, so could easily transmit the virus especially if they are health care workers.

We need to increase testing for COVID-19 and if you have the virus strictly be quarantined until you are clear. This was successfully done in the Italian town of Vo and within three weeks no one had COVID-19.

Dr. Melina Thibodeau, family doctor

Don’t end the health measures

Your editorial, wherein you recommend loosening COVID-19 public health efforts to reduce the impact on the economy, in contrast to your organization of the rapid relief fund-raising effort, is completely irresponsible.

What you are suggesting is completely in line with Donald Trump’s desire to pull the plug on public health attempts to lower the death rate by April 12 so that the economy can surge.

Your argument for ignoring the advice of infectious disease experts around the world is naive and demonstrates that you have not been doing your research.

For example, your claim that the lockdowns in Italy have had no effect on the spiralling and tragic death toll fails to recognize that those lockdowns came too late.

In essence, Italy early on was following the kind of advice your editorial recommends and, by the time they found themselves with an overwhelmed health care system, it was too late.

On the other hand, you praise the efforts of Taiwan and Japan, which essentially have formed the basis of Canada’s approach to COVID-19. So what’s the problem? No one wants to see our economy destroyed for the long term, but if you think pulling the plug on our current public health measures will have a positive economic outcome, you are sorely mistaken.

Dr. Howard Brunt
Professor emeritus, School of Public Health and Social Policy, University of Victoria

Editorial showed lack of leadership

As a near-72-year-old who retired after 40 years as an emergency physician, and Times Colonist subscriber, I am incensed by your editorial.

This is the opposite of leadership in these terrible times.

The case fatality rate for healthy individuals age 60-69 is about 8 per cent. Any additional health risks and older age and that increases. Dramatically!

It takes time to train even health care workers to avoid breaches of infection control.

I witnessed mistakes and human error in my ERs.

The best and the brightest!

Your editorial is not leadership. It is uninformed, detrimental and unkind.

Show some respect for your aged readership.

Ronald Youngash, MD

I had never been sick before

I am a recently retired, widowed man in my 60s.

Colds and flu have always been to me ailments that other people endured but for me I can’t remember catching anything in my adult life. Good immunities I presume.

Before I travelled to southeast Asia in December of last year and January 2020, I made an appointment with a travel clinic doctor.

I received all the necessary inoculations, including this year’s flu shot. Not wanting to have my travel plans disrupted by illness, I practised all known ways of avoiding bugs but in some situations it was impossible not to be in an extreme exposure to others.

Packed like sardines into sold-out airplanes would be one example. During my travels home, COVID-19 was just starting.

Screening for the virus was already underway at overseas airports I passed through.

Arriving back in Canada, I simply sailed through customs using a passport scanner and was walking to my car within minutes of arrival. I was not feeling well and slept for 14 hours straight. I had all the symptoms of COVID-19, so after strong encouragement by family I phoned 811.

I got right through and spoke to a nurse. Our conversation was frequently interrupted while I was put on hold so that the nurse could consult with her other health care professionals at the call centre.

“There is no way to test you for if you had the virus, only if it is active, and it sounds like you are in recovery,” is what I was told. “But call back if your condition gets worse.”

Today, I noticed my breathing was still a little laboured but I was on the mend.

I did self-isolate.

Did I actually have COVID-19?

I’ll never know.

Kevin Norman
View Royal

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