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Opinions of Tuesday, 4 May 2021

Columnist: Joe Kingsley Eyiah

Protect school children from the deadly effects of Covid-19

The shocking news of the untimely death of Emily Victoria Viegas, a 13-year old elementary student of Brampton in Ontario on April 22, 2021 due to Covid-19 has raised concerns about how best to protect school children from the devastating effects of the coronavirus raging in the world.

Emily became one of the youngest Canadians to die from COVID-19 – and part of a growing trend of younger victims in the pandemic’s third wave.

Keeping Students Safe during the 2020-2021 School Year:

In the Ontario Province of Canada, schools were closed after the April break and all classes sent online (remote learning) by the government upon the advice of the Ontario Public Health.

In-person learning were only available for students with special education needs who cannot be accommodated through remote learning.

Since then the province has been experiencing high rates of infection and death from Covid-19 due to the arrival of new variants of concern in Canada from Britain and India recently.

Daily record of over 3,000 cases in the province reported recently has been a major concern to the government. The dire situation has led to the lockdown of some workplaces and restrictions on gatherings.

One is not sure of when schools in the province could return to in-person (brick and mortar) learning. It was assumed that keeping the school buildings closed to students will keep our school children safe from Covid-19.

However, the untimely death of Emily Victoria Viegas, 13, of Brampton during schools closure has brought to the fore the fact that if we want to protect our school children from Covid-19 then their families must be supported and protected from the effects of Covid-19 as well.

The unfortunate news surrounding the premature death of young Emily has it that, “When Emily Viegas started exhibiting some of the COVID-19 symptoms that had put her mother in hospital – difficulty in breathing, an inability to stand – her father, Carlos, faced an agonizing situation.”

The Ontario government is now under pressure to grant sick-leave pay to workers who show symptoms of Covid-19 to stay home from work. Also, travel from India to Canada has been banned for now. However, the major project being embarked upon in the Province to protect adults from the spread of the coronavirus is vaccination.

Huge Vaccination Campaign:

According to the government of Canada COVID-19 vaccination is primarily aimed at reducing COVID-19 hospital admissions and deaths among people who are most at risk.It should also help maintain health and social services activities and a return to a normal life as soon as possible.

Here in Ontario a huge Covid-19 vaccination project has been launched by the government, in especially Covid-19 hotspot areas to protect residents from the rapid spread and the ravaging effects of the pandemic. Many local agencies and community organizations including the Ghanaian Canadian Association of Ontario (GCAO) are involved in such meaningful project.

The GCAO under the able leadership of Emmanuel Duodu in partnership with the Toronto Public Health successfully organized its first vaccination clinic on Friday, April 30, 2021 at the Apostles’ Continuation International Hall in Toronto.

Over 700 residents of the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) mainly Ghanaians were vaccinated on that day. More of such vaccinations would follow soon.

Some Recommended Health and Safety Guidelines to Combat Covid-19:

• Stay at least six feet from other people.
• Cover your mouth and nose with a mask when around others.
• Avoid close contact with people who are sick, even inside your home.
• Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If
soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at
least 60% alcohol.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
• Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use
the inside of your elbow and do not spit. Throw used tissues in the
trash.
• Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily.
• Be alert for symptoms. Watch for fever, cough, shortness of breath, or
others.

Obviously, the best way to protect school children from the deadly effects of Covid-19 is for adults to take opportunity of the vaccination campaign and also follow all the Covid-19 protocols wherever we are!