Comment: Canada’s handling of epidemic doesn’t make sense

A commentary by a retired medical doctor who lives in Courtenay.

I have been sitting in a lovely hotel room in Fredericton, N.B., for two weeks under quarantine.

I live on Vancouver Island and crossed into the United States on March 15 to finish seeing the rest of the 50 states on my touring list.

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On May 12, I returned to Canada from Maine, crossing at St. Stephen, N.B. I had been well self-isolated in my truck/camper and had no symptoms of COVID-19.

I know no one in Eastern Canada and wanted to stay in a campground, but they were all closed, so quarantine was the only option.

Two floors of this hotel are reserved for this purpose but I am now all alone — apparently the only person in a quarantine facility in all of Atlantic Canada.

The government is paying for all 40 rooms at $95 plus tax per room. All my meals are provided. And, it is all free!

It snowed here on May 12 and I am as happy as a clam getting two welcome weeks of rest. However, because of the lack of exercise and the poor food options, it is the unhealthiest thing I have ever done.

Red Cross supplies two volunteers who are the contact in the hotel 24 hours a day.

A public health nurse is on duty 12 hours a day, two security guards are here 24 hours a day, and a cleaning company works 12 hours a day.

My laundry gets done once a week. All my meals are ordered from two restaurants and I can order some extras from a grocery store.

Every province has one quarantine facility like this — there are apparently 80 under quarantine like me in Vancouver, 40 in Calgary, 100 in Toronto and a few in each of the other provinces.

It sounds like another crazy idea thought up by some public health officer with no common sense. Why don't they expedite a test, and if negative, give us our freedom?

This costs the government at least $3,000 per person for the two weeks.

I would estimate that for the 10 quarantine centres across Canada (at least 500 rooms at $100 a day as well as salaries for the nurse, guards, and cleaners) that this quarantine method is costing the government $600,000 a day, not including food. (The food cost would depend on the number quarantined.)

And will be continued until this pandemic is under control — six months, one year, more?

The money could be used in more productive ways, like doing more testing and contact tracing.

Hundreds of trucks cross the border every day, all probably at more risk than me for introducing COVID-19. They move freely. A test is not required of them.

While I was at the border, there was a very sad experience. An elderly couple (she was a Canadian and he an American from Florida) wanted to go to her house in New Brunswick. As his travel was not “essential,” he was denied entry.

Their only options were to return to the U.S. or separate. The wife was hysterical. This makes no sense either.

This is just another example of how poorly our public health system is working — no mandatory masks, denial that this virus is spread by aerosol, inadequate testing, no boots-on-the-ground contact tracing, no apps to guide who to test and contact trace, and no common sense stay-at-home rules.

More than 4,000 hospital beds lay empty in B.C. while all elective surgery was cancelled.

The incidence of spousal abuse, alcoholism, mental health issues and children going crazy is an epidemic in itself. And our economy will take years to recover.

Institute good public health and open the economy.

Look at Sweden, where most things are open. Death rates are low and their economy is running.

Canadians can act as responsibly as Swedes.

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