COVID-19 restrictions around the world: Comparing Canada's approach
TORONTO -- Around the world, national leaders continue to test different pandemic response plans in hopes of achieving an effective strategy that will curb new COVID-19 infections.
In Australia, all 6.9 million residents in the state of Victoria went into lockdown for 113 days at the beginning of June until restrictions were lifted in October. Since then, the state hasn’t reported a single new case.
When asked if Canada should consider stricter measures like the ones implemented in Australia, epidemiologist Raywat Deonandan told CTV’s Your Morning, “It's definitely an option and one we should consider.”
Deonandan suggests that a temporary lockdown could help to curb new infections. He says an effective strategy would direct extraordinary public health assets for backwards contact tracing to identify the source of new cases, as well as mass testing similar to that in South Korea and Slovakia.
“A lot of options are on the table, what is not tolerable is the sort of tepid halfway approaches that keep us in crisis mode interminably,” he said Friday.
Both Slovakia and South Korea have used mass testing and backwards contact tracing to help prevent large clusters of infections from spreading throughout the population.
Slovakia in particular has been praised for testing two-thirds of its 5.5. million population in two days, using rapid antigen kits, which are less accurate than PCR tests.
Studies suggest that an estimated 10 to 20 per cent of COVID-19 cases are responsible for 80 per cent of transmission, indicating that superspreader events can be the virus’ main engine of transmission.
In South Korea, churches in particular have been linked to large numbers of new infections. Earlier this year, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention linked more than 5,000 cases to a 61-year-old woman known as “Patient 31” who attended several church services.
According to Deonandan, countries that have succeeded at controlling the spread of the virus acted early, decisively and were quick to implement testing and contact tracing.
He also noted that border closures and mandatory quarantine protocols have helped stop the spread of the virus, along with governments who enacted a strong national strategy to address the pandemic.
“We don’t have a national strategy here. We have a mosaic of different approaches,” Deonandan said. “We’d like a longer-term strategy, not just for a couple of weeks out, but months out because the vaccine is here, we have to learn how to sit tight and not collapse as a society until the vaccine gives herd immunity.”
He added, “You need a significant continuous solid approach throughout the entire country. The principles of containment must be uniformly applied throughout the nation.”