Has anyone seen a story in New Brunswick about the provincial contact tracing process? The Economist has a great story this week covering how other countries are doing it. Germany, which still has hundreds and hundreds of new cases per week, has most of the economy as open as New Brunswick and even more with certain areas opening schools. But the country has thousands of contact tracers and technology that means they each time there is a new case, they are able to quickly isolate those that came in close contact with the infected.
Most experts believe it will be almost impossible to keep a jurisdiction Covid-19 free indefinitely so the focus is on mitigation.
My concern is that in New Brunswick, many people seem to be so afraid of this virus that the government response to small flare ups might be to shut down the whole economy or even regional economies within the province. It could a political win to do so. Just look at social media comments after the problem in Campbellton. I don’t know about you but I scanned hundreds of comments on Facebook and easily 90% were in favour of draconian measures – both towards the offender and the economy.
The Premier’s approval rating is over 80%. This must be correlated to his response to Covid-19.
He should not see this as a mandate to shut down the economy every time there are a half dozen or so cases somewhere.
Make sure people are clear there is a rigorous contact tracing process in place and manage the process without drastic steps. Close one school where there is an outbreak not entire districts or the province.
Of course, if there is an out of control epidemic with dozens of cases popping up everywhere then a more strict approach might be needed.
But I am growing increasingly worried about the culture of fear emerging in this province.
People live with risks every day. People die of the seasonal flu. People still die from HIV/AIDS. In other countries, malaria, dengue fever and other pestilence kill people on an ongoing basis but it doesn’t paralyze whole societies.
As I mentioned in my column the other day, the economic historian Niall Ferguson speculates that the thing future historians will focus on about this time will be the economic damage done by lock downs than the pandemic itself. I hope he is wrong.