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When Will Quarantine Be Over?


Family in quarantine | Source: unsplash.com

Wake up, eat, work, sleep and repeat. For millions of families worldwide, this has been life for the last ninety days. An endless cycle of menial duties, isolation for many, has become an opportunity to reflect. During this long period of isolation, the majority have decided to take this time to learn a new hobby or take up the latest diet. After all, with that much on your hands, it's the least you can do to avoid reaching the brink of your sanity. All over our social media feeds, we find friends and family showing their latest bread venture or posting the aftermath of their latest home-gym workout. Amidst these trying times, despite the unfortunate situation we are in, life in quarantine (at least for those among the upper-middle-class), is, to say the least, comfortable. Still, after the yeast deposits run out and the reality of our situation kicks in, it is easy to find ourselves a little more worried than we like. After mass layoffs and terminations, and with hundreds of families wondering where next month's checks will come, one question echoes through their minds: when will this all be over?



The argument for ending quarantine early.


For small businesses across Canada, this pandemic has been a seemingly never-ending 'head-ache'. Nevermind the challenges already set that inhibit these businesses to succeed, the added penalty of not being able to access their main sources of income has drastically impacted many small businesses across the nation and beyond. For Joe Rutherford, a 'Torontonian' dog walker, this ongoing crisis has resulted in the loss of more than eighty percent of his business in nearly forty-eight hours. In Flora Cheung's case, her business 'Front and Company' centered on Vancouver's once-bustling Main street, has had to entirely be placed on hold after social distancing regulations caused the streets to clear out. Or even Bryan Doherty, a little-known carpenter living in Toronto's Parkdale neighbourhood, who, considering the recent events, has had trouble finding work in a formerly thriving market. Regardless of how different Canada's small business owners are, the same obstacles plague small businesses across the nation. With rigid regulations and limited resources, many businesspersons have had to fire their employees, close down their shops, and apply for business support from the government all to break even. The longer this quarantine lasts, the larger the ramifications will be for small businesses across Canada.


Nevermind the struggles Canadian business owners have, for many of their employees and self-employed workers, COVID-19 has negatively affected them as well. As previously mentioned, many businesspersons have had to lay off numerous of their workers in order to stay afloat. This means, not only do these workers have to deal with the impacts of this crisis, but they have to survive through this pandemic without a job to support themselves. For many diligent workers across Canada, this has caused a massive rent complication. Without a steady course of income, tenants across North America have turned to their landlords for rent forgiveness amid the crisis. In Toronto, apartment tenants who've been threatened with eviction for not having enough money to pay rent throughout this global pandemic have organized themselves in protests across the lawns of their landlords. In America, nearly a third of 13.4 million American lessees did not pay their rent in the month of April. Activists across California, New York and Pennsylvania have begun staging what is expected to be the largest coordinated rent strike in decades. “My rent hasn’t been paid and neither has [it for] many people in my neighbourhood and across the city,” says Doherty calling for rent relief in his home city of Toronto, “It’s just not feasible. It’s not safe to do so and it’s impossible for many. As the months go on and rent payments become due, if this crisis is not solved soon, these Canadian workers might not have a choice or place to #stayhome.



The argument for taking our time.


As of now, looking at the data at hand, it seems like the virus and its infection rate has begun to slow down. In turn, many high-level officials and even Donald Trump, the president of the United States and the leader of the 'free world', have suggested to begin reopening society shortly. Banking on fast results and early distribution of a coronavirus vaccine, Trump aims to have the vaccine ready by the end of the year. However according to Christopher Whitty, UK's Chief Medical Officer, it may not even be possible to stimulate immunity through a vaccine in the first place. Without immunity from vaccines, a return to the close-contact contagion society before the pandemic completely comes to a halt, would result in innumerable consequences. We can already see a glimpse of the repercussions of reopening society too early, in countries that have already done so an example being Germany. Days after the country soon implemented its first steps to reopen their economy, it promptly saw a spike of coronavirus infections. Reopening society too early may result in reversing actions done to 'flatten the curve'.


Among fears that a vaccine for the virus would be impossible, scientists have turned to another hope: herd immunity. Herd immunity or immunity of a virus within a population resulted from a sufficiently high proportion of individuals being immune to the disease, might be the next greatest defence against the spread of coronavirus. To put it simply, once enough people have become immune to the virus, it can no longer be spread easily throughout the population. To reach herd immunity, however, it is no easy feat. Depending on the virus, the threshold for achieving herd immunity varies (ex. measles which has a threshold of 93-95%). To add on to that, immunity of the virus has not been proven to last for prolonged periods of time. Without in-depth knowledge of the immunity of the virus, herd immunity isn't a sure-fire defence against the virus.


Often compared to COVID-19, the misnamed Spanish flu was the center of a devastating pandemic a century ago. In 1918, the respiratory disease was highly contagious and claimed the lives of over fifty million people worldwide. Many of the symptoms between the deadly respiratory disease and COVID-19 are similar, leading many to believe that this pandemic will follow a similar path. In the event that COVID-19 follows an example set by the 1918 Spanish flu, the pandemic is likely to last as long as two years and come back furiously this fall and winter. A second wave deadlier than the first, as per a study from the University of Minnesota. If society reopens to the state before quarantine, the world may have to face the full-on effects of a deadlier, more fatal second wave of the novel coronavirus.



When will it all be over?


Taking these arguments into consideration, the end of quarantine is entirely dependent on the decisions of medical officials and authorities. It is likely that although quarantine may end sooner than expected, social distancing regulations will continue to hinder society from returning to 'normal'. Dr. Jason Kindrachuk, an associate teacher and Canada Research Chair in developing infections at the University of Manitoba, said we can anticipate that this should go on until we see a slowing of COVID-19 cases. Ultimately, there is no "definite timetable" as the circumstance will ["continue to be dynamic and based on overall trends that can’t be defined within very short periods of time."]("continue to be dynamic and based on overall trends that can’t be defined within very short periods of time.") "It’s completely dependent on how we implement these suggestions," Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious disease specialist based out of Toronto General Hospital says, "Are we going to actually do what it takes to practise these social distancing measures and truly flatten the curve and mitigate the spread of this infection in the country?"


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