Opinion: If Alberta can be rat-free for 60 years, we can be COVID-free

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It’s important to acknowledge that those countries that aimed for COVID-zero also had on average substantially better economies than others.

Initially, the thought was we couldn’t do it here because, as a liberal democracy, we couldn’t emulate the strict measures of such countries as the Republic of Korea. But then Iceland did it. Then New Zealand. Then Australia. Of course, it could be argued, those are all islands. But then we did it in our own backyard: Atlantic Canada and the northern territories.

There’s no doubt it would be difficult. Landlocked with 11 major roads coming in, two international airports (well, now, one). And tight economic ties with our neighbouring provinces and states. But, difficult is far from impossible. In a province that has prided itself on remaining rat-free for 60 years, with a concerted effort surely we could create the conditions for a COVID-zero province. 

Tantalizingly close is the promise of COVID control with vaccines. However, a light at the end of the tunnel doesn’t mean we’re yet in the light. Ten months into the pandemic, we have at least another eight to go before we successfully hit the target of everyone who wants a vaccine getting one. So eight more months of riding the restriction roller-coaster, if we continue on our current path. 

And, in a cruel plot twist, the variants have arrived. Both the South African and U.K. variants threaten any progress withsubstantially higher transmissibility(and possibly mortality). This means that the current (and now further relaxed) COVID restrictions, which have successfully kept the virus at bay since Dec. 7, would, when applied to the new variants, allow for exponential growth. Again. So if we let them take hold, we’ll require yet another period of even stricter measures to protect ourselves.

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