Canada is flooded with dismal coronavirus news.
The northernmost Canadian territory of Nunavut lost its status as the last place in Canada to be free of Covid-19. Toronto is withdrawing its reopening, imposing the longest and most severe closures the province has seen since the first wave of the pandemic. And the federal government said Friday that unless Canadians reduce contact with each other and provinces apply more restrictions, the country is heading for 60,000 new cases a day by the end of the year, about 5.5 times the current rate.
Only Atlantic Canada, isolated from the rest of the country and the world by travel restrictions, has avoided the trend.
The big question is how aggressive countries need to become. Australia provides an example.
Two of my colleagues in Australia, Yan Zhuang and Damien Cave, watched Melbourne’s 111-day hibernation. It eliminated cases in the city of five million, but the measures went far beyond anything Canada has seen and included strict curfews and severe travel restrictions.
My colleagues portrayed “a dizzying and lonely experience that many in Melbourne described as an emotional roller coaster with effects on the economy, education and mental health that will linger.”
I talked to Dr. Irfan Dhalla, associate professor at the University of Toronto Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation on Covid-zero, an idea he raised in a Globe and Mail-op oath in May.
He told me that he did not propose to copy Australia’s severe closure and that he supported keeping Canada’s schools open. Instead, he said: “We need to look at Covid-zero as a rallying cry for a better approach.”
Dr. Dhalla said that several Asian countries, especially Korea, could serve as templates, but that “the most compelling example” are the four provinces of Atlantic Canada. Their main distinction: decide to form a travel bubble. Most outsiders who enter must be quarantined.
New York Times data showed Friday that Newfoundland and Nova Scotia averaged only 0.3 cases per year. 100,000 people during the previous week, New Brunswick stood at 0.7, and Prince Edward Island had no cases at all.