We may see a bigger peak, the second time around: Trudeau says second wave already here

CALGARY — In a speech to the nation on Wednesday Prime Minister Justin Trudeau warned that a second wave of COVID-19  wasn’t just on its way but said in some parts of Canada has already hit.

“In our four biggest provinces, the second wave isn’t just starting, it’s already underway,” said Trudeau “The numbers are clear – back on March 13th when we went into lockdown there were 47 new cases of COVID-19. Yesterday alone, we had well over 1,000”

But epidemiologists say defining exactly what a second wave is, and when it is hitting is not as simple as just counting the numbers.

University of Calgary epidemiologist Dr. Craig Jenne says a lot of the science behind pandemic waves is still based on the spread if the 1918 flu pandemic, and the SARS-CoV2 virus has many different characteristics.

”In 1918, it seems as though the second wave was a little more nasty, and that’s because the virus had picked up additional mutations. What we’re seeing with COVID, is it hasn’t changed that much. There have been some small changes. But we haven’t really noticed the virus becoming more dangerous or more infectious,” said Jenne.

“The problem perhaps now in the second wave,” he added, “or rather this ‘second uptick’ is if we are more hesitant to bring in restrictions, the virus will continue to spread. And we may see a bigger peak, the second go around.”

Small business concerns

Calgary businesses are worried a rise in COVID infections could prompt a second lockdown.  Many businesses did not survive the first lockdown in the spring and early summer of 2020. 

Those who did wonder how many would survive a second one.

Fitness club Cor.Fit is now back in business after a prolonged COVID-induced closure. Its owner says the lockdown pain is still being felt.

“The decision to shut down was easy,” said Cor.Fit owner Kathryn Karpati,  “But the length and the duration of the shutdown was very stressful. It was hard on our members, it was hard on our staff, and we’re happy to be open again. But there’s some impacts that have lingered,” adding that just  the uncertainty of what’s to come is hard on business.

“Any industry that relies on people coming to see them to make money is that is pretty much in the same boat as we are, which is pretty scary,” said Karpati “We really can’t predict anything and the chance of another lockdown, if it’s not long, coming out the other side is lower than the last time. And I think any business owner could say that.”

The interim CEO of the Calgary Chamber of Commerce, Murray Sigler, worries a second wave lockdown could devastate Calgary businesses.

“There’s an element of uncertainty and anxiety that exists right now amongst the entire community,” Sigler said.”And that hit the business community extremely hard. Of all the major cities in Canada, Calgary has been the most hard hit all the statistics and data, prove that out.

“For sure at this time it (a second wave lockdown) would be a really serious blow,” Sigler added. “We’d recover, We’d get through it – but let’s not put ourselves in that position.”

Jenne agreed, saying it will take vigilance and perseverance by Albertans to avoid the worst effects of a second or subsequent spike in COVID cases.

“We don’t want to see having to make decisions on who’s going to survive or not survive simply because of an age because we don’t have room for them,” said Jenne “ So we need to avoid that while still trying to preserve as much of the economy as possible”

Jenne said public health directions like mask wearing, and social distancing will need to be maintinaed until a vaccine is approved and widely distributed.  He expects that to happen by the first half of 2021.

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