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Toeing the line to flatten the curve

By Lorraine Graves

Published 3:32 PDT, Tue September 15, 2020

Last Updated: 10:12 PDT, Wed September 16, 2020

Dr. Meena Dawar, medical health officer for Richmond, looks at the patterns, the lines on a graph. Those lines hold both reassurances and warnings.

While the line showing the number of COVID-19 cases is rising, it isn’t a straight line. There are ever increasing sharp peaks in the graph.

“There are certainly clusters that occur after weekends with parties. A number of those parties are associated with transmission,” Dawar says. 

The group with the biggest increase in cases proves to be 20 to 29 years of age.

“Young people don’t recognize it as illness so they don’t stay home,” Dawar says.

While all ages can live with long-term consequences from even the mildest cases of COVID-19, hospitalizations are down. Dawar says that’s because it is mainly young people getting sick right now.

But she cautions, “When it spreads to their parents and grandparents, we could see a rise in hospitalizations. Those are the people we need to protect.”

The chance of being hit hard by COVID-19 rises with age.
Is some of the increase in confirmed cases just due to increased testing?

“There is a little bit of that,” Dawar says. “I’m quite sure we missed mild cases in the first wave when testing was only for the severely ill.”

As scientists learn more about this new virus, it guides the information emanating from public health officials. Now they know that it is the very early symptoms, the tiny cough, the barely sore throat—the time when people are wondering if they are even sick or just have a touch of allergies—that is the most infectious period for people with COVID-19. 

Consequently, Dawar cautions, “Be watchful of mild symptoms.”

Dawar says if you are even wondering if you should be tested, get tested. People can go to the drive-through testing facility on Gilbert Road, south of Richmond Hospital, in the tennis club parking lot. You will need your care card. You will be contacted about your results. 

Looking back at the serious measures that cut our case numbers so much, Dawar says, “It seemed that all of society had come to a pause until mid-April or May.” The graph of those days shows how effective the lockdown was in dropping case numbers.

Not wanting to go back to a lockdown, she cautions us more than ever to all be mindful of keeping our distance, wearing a mask when we cannot, staying home when we can and washing our hands before we touch our face.

According to Richmond RCMP’s Supt. Will Ng, most of us are getting the message. There were no requests to enforce the COVID Measures Act in Richmond this past week. Echoing Dawar’s attitude, Ng says, “Our approach continues to be education and awareness.” 

With restrictions loosened from the earlier days of the pandemic, Dawar is clear that we each have the power to prevent another shutdown: “We all need to take greater ownership of trying to protect ourselves.”

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