By Letter to the Editor on November 24, 2020.
In midst of the pandemic we have now tangible hope that the recent successful trials would lead to mass public vaccinations against COVID-19 over the next few months.
Our community – especially small businesses, children, the elderly and vulnerable – have gone through a great deal of suffering over the last eight months. Even though currently there are more cases and hospital admissions than ever in Alberta, and throughout Canada, we have a real chance to reduce the transmission in our relatively smaller community by taking some personal responsibilities and helping our businesses and schools to stay open, which we all need and want.
I am aware that there are some differing opinions, even among professionals, on the use of masks and other such public health measures. The responsible public health bodies however, have given us clear guidance going through a rigorous amount of studies and research in real time; precisely to help us, the public, navigate our way through this pandemic. Such scientific steps and measures have been instrumental in eliminating many deadly and serious transmissible diseases in the past, and this pandemic is no different.
If we all put a clean facial barrier like a cloth or surgical masks in closed public spaces, then the chance of putting out respiratory droplets would be greatly reduced, and in combination with hand hygiene and distancing when possible, would greatly reduce the number of COVID transmissions in our community. This simple logic, as many would appreciate, is plain common sense; just like we the surgeons, and the operating room staff always put a mask to protect our patients more than ourselves during the surgeries.
Our freedom always comes with the responsibilities to protect others, especially the most vulnerable among us. Our resilient community has always been generous and giving in such difficult times, and now in the middle of this extraordinary time, and more than ever, we need that understanding, empathy and compassion towards our fellow citizens to do the right thing. Masking, hand hygiene and social distancing are relatively small contributions on our part to help the community avoid another shutdown when we all are waiting for that imminent vaccine, and hopefully we can look back at these times as our finest; when we all came together as a community to do the right thing for each other.
Dr. Debkant Jena
Medicine Hat Regional Hospital
(This opinion is personal and does not reflect the writer’s position as a medical leader of AHS)