March 28, 2020 at 2:49 am
Dear Dr. Bigham,
I read your write up on Healthy Debate titled “Four things Canada needs to do NOW to support frontline health care workers and save lives” on March 25th which was republished on Global News on March 27th with much interest.
Your thoughts resonate with what I have been establishing as mandatory requirements since December 2019 when I read about the uncontrollable outbreak in Wuhan province, China.
My name is Warna Hettiarachchi, a physicist who has been geometrically modeling cluster spreads and sprawls into community and household clusters from the time of importation to any country. As I have removed myself from all social media, I find it difficult to communicate my thoughts to lawmakers. I have been frustrated on the lackadaisical, lethargic, complacent and incompetent ways Canada’s leadership, Chief Medical Officer and Politically-correct legislative system miserably failed to prevent the COVID-19 virus from importing to Canada, quarantine/isolate and contain any imported cases and protect Canadians from this devastating highly pathogenic virus before it was too late.
We must remember one important fact, which evaded the radars of our politicians and regulatory bodies in Canada and worldwide: This virus which was confined only to China was spread to every other country on the infected list today only through TRAVELING carriers, who didn’t know they were infected due to asymptomatic nature of the pathogen. The government and health officials claiming to be “EXPERTS” advised Canadians to go ahead and travel, take the cruise, carry on with overseas vacation plans, and that they cannot contract the disease through contact, that it was NOT airborne, and that it was SAFE and cannot spread from person to person sitting in an airport lounge, lining up at check-in counters, boarding rooms for flights, inside aircraft, trains, buses, taxis, elevators, and public buildings as recently as in late February.
I have heard a “Medical Health Expert” come on a Radio Channel three weeks ago and said that no one can get infected with COVID-19 even if you sat in an airplane next to an infected person, unless they coughed or sneezed on you.
Today that perception has made paradigm shifts in our actions, albeit far too late as we missed that narrow window we had, in order to prevent the virus from being imported to Canada, or to contain it at strict quarantine facility from the airport itself.
Amidst the early warnings reviewing on dangers of TRAVEL industry becoming the ONLY vector-supporter for propagating this virus, Canada did not properly screen airline passengers with IR Thermographic sensors at airports, did not check each passenger for temperature rise or fever to isolate, did not impose mandatory screenings at airports, did not check inbound passengers for symptoms nor did they carry out nasal swab test to isolate positive cases, by placing all test subjects under temporary quarantine until lab test results were available.
The very “experts” and lawmakers around the world got infected from COVID-19, including the wife of our Prime Minister, Mr. Justin Trudeau. She also likely got infected from her recent travels.
Rather than trying to REINVENT THE WHEEL, we could look at how several other countries had effectively dealt with this virus, Singapore, Dubai, Abu Dhabi (UAE), South Korea, Taiwan, China and Sri Lanka, containing it, reducing community spread and cluster and sub-cluster formations, and eventually reducing the rate of transmission. The transmissivity of COVID Virus was estimated to be between 2-4 in February 2020, however, this number is a misleading factor as well as it is a variable which is case-wise dependent.
In the case of Patient# 31 in South Korea, her Transmissivity was much larger, if you factor in all subsequent spreads caused by herself at the restaurants, hospitals, and Churches that she had attended while being infected but ignored mild symptoms at the beginning. She herself drove the infected patient curve higher out of proportion.
What this implies is that the statistical numbers mean nothing other than establishing a bare minimum figure for each country, as depicted by World Health Organization’s daily Situation Report. This number of infected in each country depends on the following:
- Reported numbers given by individual countries
- Includes only those patients who are tested and proven positive
- Excludes those who have been turned away by hospitals, healthcare centers, testing centers and medical facilities
- Excludes those who are infected, but not suspected of infection due to asymptomatic nature, thus not getting tested
- Excludes those who are infected, however afraid to declare or register, worrying of overcrowded scary scenes of hospitals
- Excludes those religious groups that are not allowed to register, believing in faith-healing
Had our authorities carried out strict measures as did all above countries, we could have taken just 1-month recession on economy, and saved the people. As they failed to do so, now we are faced with a massive outbreak at every city and township, with our people being infected and dying, with further spread and cluster formations just as in US, Italy, Spain etc., straining and exceeding capacities of our healthcare professionals, resources and medical facilities, while taking much larger hit on economy and employment, government revenue, causing Canada to encounter massive economic downturn for many months if not a year or more.
Some of our “experts” and “politicians” kept saying it was safe to take MARCH BREAK travels and vacations with kids as recent at early March, just to have their statements retracted later!!
As such, the ACTUAL, REAL TIME numbers need to be much larger than published data. I gather that WHO advised to multiply published data by a factor of 8 or 10 depending on which country is being studied.
As for further preventive measures, I agree with your suggestions, and might I add the following to the list, including some of yours:
- Close all airports, cancel all flights and public transit systems
- Impose Emergency and bring in curfew – deploy police and military on street patrol to ensure isolation compliance by people
- Do what Abu Dhabi and Dubai do to every incoming passenger aircraft – Send healthcare officials clad in protective gear and IR thermometers and thermographs to the aircraft parked at special apron to screen each passenger while seated. Anyone with higher than normal temperature reading, along with all passengers in the three rows up and down should be taken into a special isolation vehicle into a temporary quarantine, while the passengers with fever taken to a separate isolation quarantine facility. All of them should be subjected to nasal swab testing, and each passenger should be kept in temporary quarantine until lab results are ready. Any positive cases should be sent to isolation quarantine and treated. All other passengers should be mandated to be self-quarantined with a signed declaration that any breach of self-quarantine will bring in fiscal penalty and imprisonment as done in Singapore.
- Mandatory Lock-Downs for each city and mobilize essential supplies and services such as food and grocery delivery and distribution for online ordering.
- Make available plenty of hand sanitizers, isopropyl alcohol (90%) and Ethanol (90% USP) for disinfecting purposes to public.
- Make available latex/nitrile gloves for public usage
- Face masks and Ventilators – These are not complex technology, but simple to manufacture. They can make these items in every capable facility under emergency regulations in massive scale and distribute for healthcare and public access of N95 masks. Supply chain of raw materials and other equipment can be sourced or made locally.
- Canada’s relief package does not seem to benefit small businesses in direct way but another debt-trap on the long run in some cases. Even the large banks are benefitting from the package, not the customer.
- Issue permits for those who need to get access to medical facilities in emergency or curfew.
- Any flight or travel cancellations should refund the customers, as the virus outbreak is no fault of theirs. They wouldn’t have taken travels if authorities and experts had warned them of actual risks and dangers of getting infected earlier on.
- Government must acquire hotels nearby hospitals to create make-shift quarantine facilities.
- Intensify testing hydroxychloroquine + Azithromycin following positive results published by Pfizer in France – This drug combination is widely available, costs much less, easy to produce and have no patents to pay royalties for – formulations are freely available. Clinical trials may be carried out on qualified infected patients with their consent and likely less contra-indications, who may have infection extended to lungs.
- All Generic pharmaceutical manufacturers should be mandated to make this drug in mass-production, for which government can offer financial support.
- Canada should realize that international food and materials supply chain will eventually collapse or weaken soon enough with every nation on planet Earth facing the same crisis. This is worse than WW-2 or may be worse than would-be WW-3, as every citizen of our planet is at risk and no one can be spared unless they are isolated from this deadly COVID-19 or the virus is contained or treated immediately with potential drugs.
- Canada should keep and steadily increase in stock of its food and medical supplies and call into mandatory work on essential goods and services.
There may be more action items that we can formulate.
My request for you: Could you possibly get content of this note to you and add to your writing, and then propose to CMA to be presented to our Government of Canada and its lawmakers without any delay, as every second is ticking off against us.
Warna Hettiarachchi (B.Sc. Nuclear Physics)