EDITORIAL: Keep calm but be prepared

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The coronavirus has come home.

A few months ago it was in China and a few weeks ago in South Korea, Japan, Italy, with few appearances in North America, and very few in Canada.

But within days it flared up, almost at once, and so has the panic.

Within a few hours on March 12, the NHL put its season on hold, following the lead of the NBA; the Junos were cancelled; and Canada’s prime minister announced he was self-isolating because his wife had been exposed to the virus (within hours it was confirmed she had tested positive for COVID-19).

On the same day, Premier Doug Ford announced that publicly-funded schools in Ontario would be closed for two weeks following the March Break, not scheduled to re-open until April 6. That pattern was followed by a half-dozen states in the U.S., with many more to follow on March 13.

If that wasn’t enough, the American stock markets on March 12 suffered their worst price collapse since 1987. It happened a day after the U.S. president addressed his nation (and the world) to provide some assurances, but his demeanor showed signs of defeat and fear – two emotions no national leader should ever exhibit, at least not in public.


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It’s time to keep calm and be prepared. For many weeks we’ve been told to be careful and thorough in how we wash our hands. Public officials have emphasized that COVID-19 is spread through close contact and droplets. Essential to limiting its spread is hand-washing and avoiding large crowds, and avoiding contact with people who are ill.

And especially important is to stay home, or self-isolate as the prime minister and many others are doing.

And so the decision to postpone the seasons of professional sports, to cancel large public events like the Junos, to close schools, are all rational and right-thinking decisions.

Our prime minister’s decision is the correct one. It’s all about keeping calm but being prepared. It’s not about panic, but it should be all about a logical response to what the World Health Organization has called a pandemic.

There has been some panic-buying and hoarding, and it’s not necessary. But what’s necessary is for every household to have a few weeks’ worth of items on hand. It’s about being prepared – as we always should be.

Canadians should also be prepared to make minor adjustments, should health authorities recommend it. That includes adjusting travel and vacation plans and preparing for telework, where employees stay home.

We need to always hope for the best but always prepare for the worst.

– Peter Epp

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