AGAINST SUGGESTIONS THAT IT BE CANCELLED, 23,000 PEOPLE FROM AROUND THE WORLD ATTENDED A MINING CONVENTION IN TORONTO IN MARCH.
When this global health crisis finally ends, as it will one day, there will be much soul-searching about what could have been done better, and how we could have prevented the spread of the virus and the pandemic. In Canada, one of the lessons learned may well be that mass gatherings, for whatever reason, are not a good idea when the virus is already on our doorstep.
As people in this country and around the world are being ordered to self-isolate and observe strict rules about physical distancing, and a rash of other tough measures to try to contain the spread of COVID-19, it is instructive to look back just a few weeks to see how rapidly complacency has given away to urgency, things have changed, and lessons are being learned.
In March, despite the fact that the virus was already in Canada (the first case was registered on January 25), three very large public gatherings went ahead. Each left a COVID-19 legacy.
A dentist who attended the Pacific Dental Convention in Vancouver, held March 5 – 7, later died of suspected complications of COVID-19. According to Global News, British Columbia’s public health officer Bonnie Henry confirmed that about 20 people from British Columbia who attended the conference have tested positive for COVID-19, as have dozens from other provinces.
On March 11, six weeks after the World Health Organization (WHO) director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus declared the coronavirus outbreak a “public health emergency of international concern” and the same day that he declared COVID-19 a pandemic, dozens of doctors from western Canada assembled in Edmonton for a four-day curling bonspiel. Ten days later, CBC reported that 13 cases of COVID-19 had been linked to that event, and 11 of them were “front-line health care staff and physicians” from Saskatchewan.
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