The Fountain Pen, Centre Wellington Edition
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Are we doing enough to contain the coronavirus?

Web posted on March 09, 2020

When I was growing up a joke that made the rounds was: "Don't go to a hospital there are sick people there!"

Coronavirus is making that sound like reality is overtaking the humor.

While health care professionals are generally doing their best to contain the spread of the disease in hospitals, there are a group of infectious diseases specialists pushing for any suggestion of the virus among people reporting to emergency rooms be tested off-site.

I have first-hand experience in reporting to emergency I was at Guelph General Hospital three times in the past month.

What struck me when I read a CBC report on the push to take testing out of hospitals is what I experienced at Guelph General Hospital.

I avoid contact with people with colds or the flu because I am immune-suppressed by my transplant. Catching anything that attacks the immune system can make life very difficult.

As I sat in the waiting room, a woman from the far east, wearing a mask, sat near me. It's only natural given the publicity surrounding the coronavirus that I was concerned. Did she have something treatable and a minor medical condition? I put on a mask.

Later, sitting in an audience-like inner waiting room filled with many others awaiting assessment, the woman sat behind me.

The specialists who are quoted by the CBC made specific reference to wait times in emergency and the likelihood of overcrowded waiting rooms and hallways if the virus spreads.

The anecdote says it all.

The containment efforts being employed seem directed more at travellers than the general population. That's a recipe for increased spreading of the virus because many cases are now appearing world-wide involving people who have not travelled out of their countries.

My greatest fear is a large group of individuals contracting the disease. This fear was generated by a news story that a potential virus carrier had visited an elementary school.

A school is very much like a cruise ship large numbers of individuals in close quarters with the exception that at the end of the day everyone goes home into the community where the disease can easily spread.

It also congers up illusions of entire schools quarantined. How would that work? Everyone go home and all families suffer self-imposed isolation for 14 days?

At the very least, the idea of off-site testing for coronavirus is an opportunity to consider another tool in the desire to contain the spread of the disease.

I'm certain, however, that governments will likely oppose such a move. Political spin-doctors cite existing facilities as appropriate when the true answer is they don't want to spend money.

The question is: what is the value of one life?

That's it. Until next time.