COVID-weary. COVID-tired. COVID-fatigued.
No matter how you chop it up, the feeling likely resonates for many at this point in the coronavirus pandemic. Months of isolation, fears and lifestyle changes have taken its toll. In turn, following COVID-19 safety guidelines has begun to feel like more and more of a challenge.
A new poll puts into perspective just how fatigued Canadians are. The poll, conducted by Ipsos, found nearly half of Canadians are getting tired of following public health recommendations and rules related to the virus. The feeling of burnout was most prominent in Quebec (52 per cent) and Alberta (53 per cent) and less so in British Columbia (34 per cent).
The challenge now — both for people and policymakers — is tackling it.
Igor Grossmann, psychology professor and director of the Wisdom and Culture Lab at the University of Waterloo, said understanding the situation at hand might help strengthen our resolve.
“We often get this ‘hunker down and get through it’ message,” he said. “But if we start accepting that this is a marathon situation, the sooner we develop meaning out of the situation.”
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Falling off the bandwagon
Not only has the medley of measures imposed by countries plunged economies into a sharp contraction, it’s also had a profound impact on people’s psychological well-being. Nine months since the lockdown, rules and restrictions still keep many aspects of life fenced in. In a separate poll, 25 per cent of Canadians said their stress level is higher than during the first COVID-19 wave.
Coronavirus: How stress and fatigue is taking its toll in the pandemic
Understandably, “we’re exhausted,” said Steven Joordens, a psychology professor at the University of Toronto Scarborough.
High-stress situations often elicit a “fight-or-flight” response, he said, but that reaction is “meant to be short term.”
“When there’s a predator in front of you, you either take on the predator or get the heck away from them. Either way, 15 or 20 minutes and it’s over, and you come out of that state,” he said.
“We’ve had this predator staring in our face for months.”
What’s followed is a collective burnout or exhaustion, and everyone experiences it differently. Some may feel restless, irritable, lack motivation or have difficulty concentrating on tasks. Some people may find themselves withdrawing from socializing, while others might feel physical symptoms like changes in eating and sleep habits. Young people are particularly susceptible, according to Joordens.
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The age divide is reflected in the Ipsos poll. Pandemic fatigue was highest among Generation Z (57 per cent), Millennials (50 per cent), and Generation X (53 per cent).
The burnout has become somewhat of an adversary for governments trying to quell a second wave of the virus.
Canada’s top doctor has repeatedly urged Canadians “not to give into COVID-19 fatigue.” So has the WHO. Its researchers estimate that about half the population of Europe is experiencing “pandemic fatigue” as infections surge yet again.
But the “stay home” message has expired, and experts worry the “greater good” or “we’re all in this together” message designed to keep people engaged has too.
“It’s very abstract,” said Grossmann. “For some people, it might work. But for individuals facing economic hardships because of the crisis, or people who are more concerned about simply surviving the next day with kids running around, that doesn’t resonate anymore.”
Coronavirus: WHO acknowledges pandemic fatigue, asks people not to give up
What needs to change?
For one, we need to acknowledge “things are different now,” said Samantha Yammine, a neuroscientist and science communicator.
Not only do we know far more about the virus than in March, we also have tools to make activities safer, said Yammine. She said too much of the focus has been the “no’s” and “you cant’s” despite the public appetite for wanting to do things, but do them safely.
“Fatigue comes from frustration.
“If we focus on what we can’t do rather than what we can, that’s why we fatigue. It feels very limiting.”
This is where adopting a harm reduction approach would be helpful, she said, both on an individual level and policy level.
“Every decision is a big task. … We’re at a point where should say, ‘Here’s how you reduce your risk as much as possible.’”
Yammine said people need to feel empowered to make a choice through the right information.
“I think then they’ll feel less trapped and hopefully less fatigued,” she said.
According to the recent polling, 93 per cent of Canadians say they’re doing their best to abide by public health recommendations and rules. Support for safety measures also remains high. On masks, nearly 86 per cent of Canadians say they support the mandatory wearing of face masks when in public, with younger Canadians even more likely to be wearing them when out-and-about.
“We’re in this process of modifying all of our habits, and it will get easier,” said Joordens.
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He said it was trickiest when things first reopened, which might have sent out mixed signals. When governments opted to open bars, restaurants and gyms, even with new rules, he said some people might have interpreted that as these places being safe or safer.
“Habits are triggered by the environment. So as soon as you go back into that bar, everything about it triggers you to behave like you did the last time you were there,” he said.
“The hope is that we develop new habits over time to keep up with the changes.”
But it won’t be easy, said Grossmann. He said the vagueness in some of the ever-changing recommendations deviates from the core message — that “this won’t be over anytime soon.”
“Not every situation is alike, but we need to figure out how to balance something that is challenging in different ways across different provinces and different municipalities,” he said.
“You don’t want a new rule to come in and have people say, ‘Well, that doesn’t apply to me.’”
What can you do personally?
A looming winter will provide an extra challenge, experts agree. Weariness over restrictions might grow as cold weather forces people indoors.
It comes down to arming yourself with the “basics,” said Joordens — a good night’s sleep, good nutrition and routine exercise.
“Leading a random life makes our body unhappy,” he said. “You have to find activities that bring you to a better place mentally.”
Before the snow piles up, think about ways to get outdoors in advance, he said. And once it does, make sure you stay connected socially.
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“I recommend the phone because people actually pay attention when they’re talking to you on the phone,” he said with a laugh.
It’s also good to remember that we’re not perfect, said Yammine.
“We’re still going to face tough decisions. It’s still going to feel exhausting,” she said. But keeping up with the twist-and-turns of pandemic rules and recommendations is “like any goal you can set.”
“A New Year’s resolution, even,” she said.
“People often say you give up on your resolution the first time you slip up — but that’s not the right thinking. Just because maybe you have more riskier encounter or you just don’t care one day, it doesn’t mean you can’t do better the next.”
“Risk is cumulative. It doesn’t need to be all or nothing. We can try again.”
These are some of the findings of an Ipsos poll conducted between October 23-26, 2020, on behalf of Global News. For this survey, a sample of 1,000 Canadians aged 18+ was interviewed online. Quotas and weighting were employed to ensure that the sample’s composition reflects that of the Canadian population according to census parameters. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll is accurate to within ± 3.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, had all Canadians aged 18+ been polled. The credibility interval will be wider among subsets of the population. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error.
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
Ottawa extends international travel restrictions citing COVID-19 risk – CBC.ca
The federal government has extended existing international travel restrictions to prevent the spread of COVID-19, barring entry to most travellers who are not Canadian citizens, permanent residents or people entering from the U.S. for “essential” reasons.
In a news release issued Sunday, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Bill Blair and Health Minister Patty Hajdu announced that travel restrictions on U.S. citizens and foreign nationals seeking to enter Canada from the U.S. will be extended until Dec. 21.
Similarly, restrictions on travellers arriving from other countries will be extended until Jan. 21, as will the mandatory requirement for anyone who is granted entry to self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival.
Emergency orders brought forward on Mar. 16 banned most foreign nationals from entering Canada for non-essential travel. There are a number of exceptions for immediate family members of citizens, essential workers, seasonal workers, caregivers and international students, to name a few.
By extending the expiration dates to the 21st of the month, today’s change brings the timing of the international travel restrictions in alignment with those governing the Canada-U.S. land border. Previously, international restrictions expired on the last day of each month while the Canada-U.S. border restrictions expired on the 21st.
Both have been regularly extended since March.
“The government continues to evaluate the travel restrictions and prohibitions as well as the requirement to quarantine or isolate on an ongoing basis to ensure Canadians remain healthy and safe,” the release said.
“The ability to align U.S. and international travel extension dates, as well as the mandatory isolation order, beginning on Jan. 21, 2021 will enable the government to communicate any travel extensions or changes as quickly as possible and provide certainty for Canadians, U.S. and international travelers.”
Exemption for amateur sports events
The release also said the government will begin accepting applications from “high-performance amateur sport organizations” seeking to hold single sport events in Canada. Applicants will need to show they have a plan to protect public health that is approved by provincial or territorial officials and the relevant local health authorities in order to be considered.
Sport Canada, which is part of the Department of Canadian Heritage, will be responsible for authorizing such events, in consultation with the Public Health Agency of Canada, the release said.
More than 1,300 professional athletes have been issued national interest exemptions, which allow those who don’t qualify under current COVID-19-related restrictions to travel to Canada, or to skip the mandatory 14-day quarantine when they arrive.
Last month, the federal government expanded the eligibility for people coming from the U.S. on compassionate grounds. Those changes governing family reunification have been broadened to include exceptions for certain extended family members of Canadian citizens and permanent residents including couples who have been dating for at least a year, including their children, grandchildren, siblings and grandparents.
Despite travel restrictions, more than five million arrivals into Canada have been allowed to skip the 14-day quarantine requirement, according to data from the Canada Border Services Agency, mainly because they’re essential workers.
Which provinces are pushing Canada's COVID-19 active case count higher than ever? – CTV News
The number of active COVID-19 cases in Canada has more than doubled this month, as the total number of Canadians infected by the novel coronavirus since the start of the pandemic nears one per cent of the country’s population.
There were 364,810 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Canada as of end-of-day Saturday, according to a CTV News tracker, including 61,421 cases that were classified as active – an increase of 113 per cent over the 28,875 cases that were active as of Nov. 1. The current number of active cases is greater than the population of Fredericton, N.B.
Every part of the country has helped contribute to that surge. The Atlantic “bubble” has popped, with New Brunswick being the first Atlantic province to show COVID-19 activity at similar rates to the spring. There have also been significant ramp-ups in virus detections in the North, with Yukon reporting record numbers and Nunavut just starting to fall back from a worrying period that left it with the highest per capita infection rate in Canada.
It’s Central Canada and the West that are carrying the lion’s share of this phase of the pandemic, with the four most populous provinces all reporting record single-day infection totals since Friday.
Ontario and British Columbia set their records on Friday, logging 1,855 and 911 cases of the virus respectively. Alberta and Quebec took their turns on Saturday, with 1,731 new infections recorded in Alberta and 1,480 in Quebec.
All of this activity helped push Canada to a record single-day total of 5,967 new cases on Friday. That number fell to 5,743 on Saturday, albeit without any data from B.C.
Modelling data released by Canada’s chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, has projected that there could be 10,000 new cases of COVID-19 a day diagnosed in Canada by mid-December if Canadians do not do more to curb their interactions with others.
Dr. Ronald St. John, a former director-general of the Public Health Agency of Canada’s Centre for Emergency Preparedness, told CTV News Channel on Sunday that Canada is on track for that scenario, at which point large-scale lockdowns may be necessary in order to preserve capacity in the health-care system.
“That’s been repeated over and over in country after country after country, and Canada will be no exception,” he said.
THE WESTERN FRONT
While Ontario, Quebec and Alberta are all jockeying for first place in the race for the most infections, adjusting the data for population leaves us with a much different leaderboard.
The recent record-setting numbers in Ontario leave the heavily populated province with a seven-day average of 10.52 new cases per 100,000 residents – lower than any province outside Atlantic Canada.
By this measure, the Prairies are by far Canada’s current COVID-19 hotspot.
Alberta’s seven-day average increased Saturday to 30.91 cases per 100,000 residents, a new high-water mark for that province. Manitoba had been above the 30-per-100,000 line earlier in the week but fell to 29.19 per 100,000 as of Saturday.
Those two provinces are followed by Saskatchewan, which set a record Friday at 22.88 cases per 100,000 and fell back slightly on Saturday. Fourth place on the list is Nunavut – which, at 20.21 cases per 100,000, has cut its rate in half over the past week – and Quebec at 14.65 per 100,000.
To put the worries in Atlantic Canada in perspective, Nova Scotia has the highest rate in that region, at 1.64 cases per 100,000 population. Nonetheless, its government introduced a host of new public health restrictions this week in hard-hit parts of Halifax, closing restaurants for in-person dining, halting recreational and religious gatherings, and restricting retailers to 25 per cent capacity.
Alberta, which has a per capita infection rate nearly 19 times that of Nova Scotia, introduced its own province-wide restrictions one day later. Measures taken there include bans on social gatherings except with those in one’s household and indoor recreational gatherings, as well as capacity limits for religious services.
“When you look at the measures that the government of Alberta has put into place, they are similar to what Ontario and Quebec had in place before that didn’t work,” Dr. Anna Banerji, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Toronto, told CTV News Channel on Sunday.
“There might have to be a reality check coming up in the next little while.”
Meanwhile, in the United States, 42 out of 50 states have higher seven-day average infection rates, per capita, than Alberta, with 22 reporting new COVID-19 cases at double Alberta’s rate.
FEARS IN ONTARIO
Although Ontario is fairing relatively well compared to both other provinces and states – Hawaii is the only state that currently has a lower per capita infection rate – there are still concerns that COVID-19 activity might be enough to overwhelm the province’s health-care system.
The number of COVID-19 patients in Ontario intensive care units is already high enough to jeopardize some scheduled surgeries, and the province’s latest modelling data suggests the situation will only get worse before the end of the year.
The province has been gradually increasing restrictions in various regions based on local virus activity. Dr. Dale Kalina, medical director of infection at the Joseph Brant Hospital in Burlington, Ont., told CTV News Channel on Saturday that it will be “another week, at least” before those changes show up in daily case counts – and that some hospitals are already offloading patients to neighbouring facilities.
“We’re not going to be able to continue to do that if people don’t help us [by following public health measures],” he said.
Canada ‘not at the back of the line’ for COVID-19 vaccine, Moderna chairman says
The head of a U.S. biotechnology company that is developing one of the most promising COVID-19 vaccine candidates says Canada is not far behind other countries when it comes to receiving doses of its vaccine.
“Canada is not at the back of the line,” Noubar Afeyan, co-founder and chairman of Moderna, told CBC’s Chief Political Correspondent Rosemary Barton on Sunday.
Afeyan said because Canada was among the first countries to make a pre-order with Moderna, the country is guaranteed to receive a certain portion of the company’s initial batch of doses — as long as the vaccine proves safe and effective and is given regulatory approval.
“The people who were willing to move early on with even less proof of the efficacy have assured the amount of supply they were willing to sign up to,” Afeyan said in an interview on Rosemary Barton Live.
“Nothing that happened subsequently can affect that.”
The Canadian government secured an agreement on Aug. 5 with Moderna for 20 million doses of its mRNA vaccine, with the option to procure an additional 36 million doses. It’s one of seven vaccine makers Canada currently has agreements with.
Moderna’s vaccine is currently in Stage 3 clinical trials and preliminary data released two weeks ago showed it appears to be 94.5 per cent effective.
Despite that promising news, the Liberal government came under intense pressure this week to lay out a timeline for when Canadians will begin receiving an inoculation as countries like the U.S., U.K. and Germany have all announced plans to begin vaccinating their populations in December.
Opposition politicians and some premiers argued Canada was falling behind other countries in its planning after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canadians would have to wait to get vaccinated because the first doses of any vaccine will go to people in the countries where the vaccines are being manufactured.
Federal officials said on Thursday that if all goes well as many as three million Canadians — mainly those in “high-priority groups” — could be vaccinated in early 2021.
WATCH | Federal government pressured on when Canadians will get COVID-19 vaccine
Regulatory approval pending
Moderna is in the process of applying for emergency-use authorization with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Once the company obtains that authorization, Afeyan said it will begin shipping doses to countries that have made pre-orders, including Canada.
Afeyan said he expects to start shipping the vaccine to Canada in the first quarter of 2021 and the quantity of shipments should increase through the second quarter and throughout the rest of the year.
The company expects to be able to produce a total of 20 million doses by the end of 2020 and between 500 million and 1 billion doses throughout 2021.
Moderna submitted early safety and pre-clinical data from Phase 1 and 2 trials with Health Canada last month as part of the regulator’s rolling regulatory review process. Health Canada must approve any COVID-19 vaccine before it can be distributed to Canadians.
Experts say Moderna’s vaccine — which requires two shots taken 28 days apart — will be relatively easy to store and distribute because the vaccine can remain stable at normal fridge temperatures of 2 C to 8 C for 30 days. By contrast, another leading candidate manufactured by U.S. pharmaceutical giant Pfizer must be shipped and stored at -70 C.
Health Minister Patty Hajdu said it’s difficult to nail down a delivery date at the moment for any of the leading vaccine candidates because of the long list of uncertainties stemming from unfinished clinical trials, ongoing regulatory reviews, and manufacturing and logistical challenges related to distribution.
“We’re all anxious to get out of this mess as a world, but certainly as a country as well,” Hajdu said.
“As Canada’s health minister, I’m staying focused on Canadians and on our own process, making sure our delivery plans are well laid out and that we have what we need in terms of being able to deliver on the variety of different kinds of vaccines.”
Hajdu added that her top priority is ensuring that Health Canada has what it needs to make sure the regulatory process proceeds smoothly so that any vaccines that are approved are safe and effective.
Source: – CBC.ca
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