Fresh Takes

Smarter Policy at Senior Centres May Have Massively Reduced COVID-19 Death


Tuesday, The Guardian profiled Hong Kong, which never locked down, yet only has four COVID-19 deaths out of a nearly Quebec-sized population.

Meanwhile, here in Quebec, we have 3,718 COVID-19 deaths so far, of which over 80% have occurred in senior centres.

What Hong Kong did, instead of lockdowns, is focus on stopping transmission from hospitals to senior centres:

“Most important is stopping the transmission from hospital to nursing home… Once we have any person infected we isolate them in hospital for three months and at the same time we isolate all the close contact people in a separate quarantine centre for 14 days for observation. They do tests regularly in that 14 days to make sure they don’t have the virus. We use a supercomputer to trace the close contacts of people being infected particularly for cluster outbreaks… All nursing homes had a trained infection controller and underwent emergency drills simulating an infection outbreak four times a year so infection control becomes a well-worn practice.”

In light of other data suggesting lockdowns are not the most important factor in preventing COVID-19 deaths, Quebec’s very early lockdown may have been entirely the wrong tool. Rather, intelligent management of patient risk at senior centres may have been a tragically missed opportunity, which shutting down the entire economy does nothing to solve.

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