“Covid-zero” is an idea that is gaining momentum. Could this work in Canada?

Canada is inundated with new coronavirus claims.

The far north Canadian territory of Nunavut has lost its status as the last place in Canada to be Covid-19 free. Toronto cancels its reopening and imposes the longest and most stringent closures the province has seen since the first wave of the pandemic. And the federal government said on Friday that unless Canadians reduce contact with each other and provinces no longer enforce restrictions, the country is on track to 60,000 new cases a day by the end of the year. year, or about 5.5 times the current rate.

Only Atlantic Canada, which is isolated from the rest of the country and the world by travel restrictions, has escaped the trend.

Some doctors and scientists say that in order to cope with the crisis, Canada should aim not only to contain the spread of the virus, but to eliminate new infections altogether. It’s an idea known on social media as #COVIDzero, and it’s gaining momentum around the world.

The big question is how countries should become aggressive. Australia provides an example.

Two of my Australian colleagues, Yan Zhuang and Damien Cave, looked at the 111-day hibernation in Melbourne. It has eliminated cases in the city of five million people, but the measures went far beyond anything Canada has seen and included strict curfews and severe travel restrictions.

My colleagues described “a dizzying and lonely experience that many in Melbourne have described as an emotional roller coaster with effects on the economy, education and mental health that will endure.”

I spoke with Dr Irfan Dhalla, Associate Professor at the University of Toronto’s Institute for Health Policy, Management and Evaluation on Covid-zero, an idea he raised a Globe and Mail editorial in May.

He told me he had not offered to copy Australia’s severe lockdown and that he was in favor of keeping Canadian schools open. Instead, he said: “We should see Covid-zero as a rallying cry for a better approach.”

Mr. Dhalla said several Asian countries, particularly Korea, could serve as models, but that “the most compelling example” is that of the four provinces of Atlantic Canada. Their main distinction: deciding to form a travel bubble. Most foreigners who enter must self-quarantine.

New York Times data showed on Friday that Newfoundland and Nova Scotia had an average of just 0.3 cases per 100,000 population in the previous week, New Brunswick was 0.7 and Prince Island -Edouard had no case.

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