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Letters to The Province, Feb. 2: Can’t keep up with COVID rule changes

Roger Bjaanes can’t understand all the intricacies of rapid testing, isolation protocols, vaccination recommendations by age group, which businesses or services are open or closed

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Recently, I watched a bit of a Toronto Raptors basketball game. The arena was empty. Not one fan.

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The next night, I watched some of the Canucks-Oilers game. The arena was at 50 per cent capacity with about 10,000 fans.

Obviously, Ontario and B.C. have different strategies to manage the pandemic.

I am dizzy with the daily changes to restrictions and guidelines from our provincial health authorities. I can no longer understand all the intricacies of rapid testing, isolation protocols, vaccination recommendations by age group, which businesses or services are open or closed.

I watched fans packed like sardines into Rogers Arena, shoulder to shoulder, cheering and jumping up and down high-fiving each other after a goal. And I thought that that despite the full vaccination mandate for all attendees, there was no way the Omicron virus wasn’t being exhaled and subsequently inhaled. It flourishes through airborne transmission. As we are seeing, breakthrough infections are occurring (as I myself experienced) and symptoms may be absent, creating a potentially deadly situation.

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I feel for the owners of clubs, restaurants, gyms and community sports programs that have been closed down completely or severely curtailed due to the pandemic. Seems like they have done everything to comply with all the guidelines and have a much better chance to limit the risks with their smaller clientele. But they’re the ones going under.

I have the utmost respect for Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix. They have a daunting task that presents new challenges daily which must be enormously difficult to analyze, and must make hard and sometimes unpopular decisions on.

Roger Bjaanes, Harrison Hot Springs

Eliminate ‘infection exemptions’

Re: Czech anti-vax folk singer dies after catching COVID on purpose

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I was alarmed and saddened by the story of Hanka Horka, the unvaccinated Czech singer who died after intentionally catching COVID-19 in order to qualify for a vaccine exemption.

Although I am not suggesting anything nefarious, it is reminiscent of the unvaccinated Novak Djokovic and his attempted entry to Australia based upon a “recent infection exemption.” I would predict that this strategy is likely to become a disturbing trend amongst the unvaccinated in jurisdictions that allow this exemption.

Although recent infection is protective, the relative immunity benefits of infection versus vaccination are still hotly debated. Vaccination protection is scientifically proven to be additive to infection, so it makes little sense to offer an exemption to those unvaccinated folks who contract COVID-19. The unvaccinated people who contract COVID-19 are offered a timely vaccine soon after recovery based on safety recommendations.

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“Infection exemptions” need to be eliminated worldwide. They are problematic and, in the peculiar universe of the unvaccinated, they can be viewed as a reward for getting COVID-19.

According to the British Columbia government website, there is no exemption here for recent COVID-19 infection. This is concordant with the CDC statement, “COVID-19 vaccination is recommended for everyone ages 5 years and older, regardless of a history of symptomatic or asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection.”

Kudos to B.C. and the CDC. You got this one right! Australia, are you listening?

Clinical Professor of Medicine, University of British Columbia,

Staff General Internist, St. Paul’s Hospital

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