By Chloe C.
Cases of the novel COVID-19 continue to rise each day in Ontario. In the past week, we have seen the daily reported cases continue to increase. On April 23, 640 new cases were reported, which is the highest number of new cases in a single day. The province total is 13,519 and there have been 763 deaths in the province.
Globally, there have been more than 2.7 million cases reported including. The U.S. has the most number of cases and Spain the highest death toll.
While the cases in Europe and North America continue to accelerate, cases in China and South Korea have begun to decline. What approach did China and South Korea use to slow the spread of the virus? In China, proactive healthcare measures including shifting construction workers to rapidly build hospitals and a swift shutdown of all non-essential business allowed for the virus to be well contained in Hubei, the province of origin.
Additional measures that have been successful in China include businesses being sprayed daily with disinfectant, mandatory face masks to enter any business, and mandatory temperature readings upon entering an office building.
It is an incredible feat that in the “ground zero” of the virus, the daily cases have slowed to double-digit numbers. Many countries with much smaller populations like France, Germany, the UK have already surpassed the total number of cases in China. Canada is number 13 on the list of highest cases.
Ontario has an embarrassingly long list of mandatory businesses and has not attempted any of the other measures that made China’s quarantine successful. On the contrary, we do not have enough masks or basic personal protective equipment for our healthcare workers let alone the rest of the population of workers who are required to go to work since our list of essential businesses is so long.
In South Korea, the government has provided massive free testing and treatment of COVID-19. This program of mass testing was successful in keeping new infections rates low, and mortality rates even lower at 1%.
According to WHO, the worldwide death rate for COVID-19 is about 3.5%. So, is Canada following South Korea’s lead?
No, in fact, it is the opposite, our death rate is 5% as of April 23. People with symptoms of the virus have reported being turned away at testing sites, for example in Orangeville. As of March 30, the Headwaters Assessment Centre in Orangeville turned away over 1000 people so far, and the Guelph Assessment Centre has turned away about 400 people. The government is not providing enough testing kits for people with symptoms, because our healthcare system is not socialized in Canada. Many private healthcare companies are unable to source equipment and we have seen tragically high death rates within private healthcare facilities in Canada so far.
We must not forget that a few months ago in November 2019, the Ontario Provincial Budget planned to cut Public Health by almost 1/3 of provincial funding (27%), reduce Health Units from 35 to 10, reduce the number of nurse positions at Public Health Units and hospitals, reduce the number of acute care hospital beds reduce funding to hospitals, long-term care facilities, and healthcare research. This is only the tip of the iceberg.
In the time of this pandemic, we cannot ignorantly think that the government is doing their best, and looking out for our health and best interests, we must look at the evidence.
We can see clearly that all levels of government in so-called Canada are running our healthcare system for profit, not for wellness. In this scary time, the contradictions of capitalist greed come to light, our province is “open for business” and their business means debt, sickness, unemployment, and even death for many citizens.
We must dispel the myth that Canada has socialized healthcare. Our healthcare system where insurance is paid by public funds and services are provided by private companies. This is not universal healthcare, and to be equipped for a pandemic, universal healthcare and an end to capitalism is our best chance for people to survive. We must settle for nothing less than universal healthcare and housing.
We must restructure our society to have the needs of the people first, we must organize for revolution in this country at all costs, this is clear now more than ever.