This map shows why it would be ‘terrifying’ to open Canada-U.S. border
TORONTO — A map showing the startling contrast between Canada and the United States in the fight against COVID-19 has an infectious disease expert “terrified” at the thought of reopening the border.
As Canadian COVID-19 trends continue to decline, cases in the United States propel upwards. The Canada-U.S. border remains closed until July 21 but reopening it to non-essential travel anytime soon would likely lead to a resurgence in cases, infectious disease specialist Dr. Abdu Sharkawy said.
“It absolutely terrifies me to think of the prospect of any sort of easing of restrictions that could allow greater travel between Canada and the United States,” he said, adding that the United States could hit 100,000 new infections per day sometime in the next week.
“These numbers are just unfathomable and astronomical when you consider what we have dealt with here in Canada over the course of three or four months.”
He said that maps tracking COVID-19 infections worldwide, like the one pictured above from Johns Hopkins University, paints a clear picture of how a country can successfully or unsuccessfully manage a pandemic.
While the data on the map above is on a more localized level in the United States, which makes it appear more red, there are still an overwhemling number of cases south of the border compared to Canada.
“I don’t think we have seen any another part of the world where you have two neighbouring countries in polar opposite situations in terms of pandemic control,” Sharkawy said. “This is a very strange phenomena where you are seeing such an extreme range.”
To date, there have been 2,796 COVID-19 cases per million people in Canada, while in the United States that number is much higher at 9,051 per million.
The United States is leading the world in COVID-19 cases as it nears the three million mark, while Canada has just over 106,000.
“I think if you look around the world at other countries that have successfully flattened the curve, a lot of resurgent cases have been a direct result of travel restrictions being eased,” Sharkawy said.
“Border control and travel restrictions are a very key element in keeping your particular geographical area safe.”
“It’s the longest undefended border in the world and the last thing we want to do is turn it into the longest unprotected border when it comes to COVID-19 transmission.”