It’s shockingly sensible to read: A document from 2014 on how Canada would deal with the Ebola outbreak that was ravaging parts of West Africa.

It seems from reading this document that we were better prepared for this than we were for the arrival of the coronavirus.

I wonder how many deaths we are now dealing with that could have been avoided if we had simply dusted off the old plans.

In 2014, Ebola thankfully did not come to Canada but had it arrived, we were infinitely more ready. There were 28 hospitals across the country designated as “Ebola Hospitals” specifically to treat any cases that appeared.

There were plans on how to transport cases to these hospitals, plans on how to ensure these hospitals were properly equipped and plans for travellers who might be of concern. Anyone who appeared at a Canadian airport after visiting a region where Ebola was present was subject to already defined rules.

“Travellers with a history of travel to an Ebola-affected country who are presenting symptoms will be immediately isolated (distancing the individual from crowds or using a quarantine assessment room, if available, at major Canadian airports) and sent to hospital for a medical examination,” the document reads.

Compare that to how travellers coming back from Wuhan were treated at the beginning of this outbreak in January.

“At the time of arrival, the husband had only mild cough,” Dr. Theresa Tam told reporters via a sparsely attended teleconference on Jan. 28.

Speaking of Canada’s very first case of COVID-19, Canada’s chief medical officer said that the man was provided with information on what to do if he became ill. A pamphlet.

Had we followed the 2014 rules, he would have been quarantined.

Even under lower 2014 standards set out for less risky travellers, like those not coughing on arrival, passengers would have been given a thermometer and told to check their own temperature twice per day for 21 days.

We didn’t do that in 2020; we didn’t do much of anything.

Until mid-March, we were only asking if people had been to Hubei province in China where the virus first appeared, we didn’t pivot and add new hotspots like Iran, Egypt or elsewhere until later.

Canadian officials were too busy waiting for the UN’s World Health Organization to tell them what to do.

Too bad that well into Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s time in office and Tam’s time as Canada’s top doctor, there were reports written which warned against doing just that.

A 2018 report on coming pandemics warned that while listening to the WHO had value, countries needed to adapt that information to their own circumstances.

“The uncoupling of national actions from global phases is necessary since the global risk assessment, by definition, will not represent the situation in each country,” the report states.

Unfortunately, Canada completely coupled its response to COVID-19 to what the WHO was saying, even though their own experts had warned against that.

“Canada’s response to the novel/pandemic virus will relate to its presence and activity levels in this country, which may not coincide with the global picture. Therefore, the WHO global phases will not be used to describe the situation in Canada or be used as triggers for action in Canadian jurisdictions,” the report reads.

Yes, being a Monday morning quarterback is easy but so, too, is learning from the mistakes of the past.

Our approach to being ready for Ebola was borne out of being caught flat-footed by SARS. The reports written by public health officials in the years leading up to COVID should have served as a template for how to act.

Instead, our own reports, our own expertise was ignored, and the bad advice of the WHO was fully accepted.

All the early cases of COVID-19 were travellers from outside of Canada, people the Trudeau government could have intercepted, dealt with and isolated.

That they didn’t means that every case and every death since then is due to their inaction.

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