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Photo taken at Gatwick Airport, England in May of 2018. // Photo by Mariah Wilson.

Summer vacation in the COVID-19 climate

By May Domingo, August 1 2020—

“It’s a balance of risks.”

That was what Christopher Mody had to say about vacationing during COVID-19. He is the head of the Microbiology, Immunology, and Infectious Disease at the University of Calgary’s Cumming School of Medicine and he has been following the pandemic closely. 

“The risk right now is not zero for developing COVID-19, but it is small,” he said. “The big concern is whether or not the increase in the number of cases from early June to now is going to increase.”

Even so, Mody does not believe that COVID-19 is going to be a seasonal illness. He believes that the number of cases depend on the country’s  jurisdictions and different public health measures. However, he warns us to remain mindful because “the virus hasn’t changed and the vast majority of Albertans are still susceptible.”  

Since the national lockdown, many jurisdictions have seen cases spike in April and decrease in June. Mody believes that cases do not appear to be increasing as of now. Instead, he referred to the pattern of cases as having gone to “a slightly higher plateau.” This means that there is a possibility we will not be seeing the same extreme spike that our American neighbours are experiencing, he said, adding, “as long as Canadians continue to adhere to those public measures, we’re not going to see a big spike again.” 

The US has consistently exceeded their number of cases everyday. Because of this, Canadians have been wanting to keep the borders closed between the two countries. Mody warns that “the United States don’t have the infection under control. It would not surprise me if the next day or so, they see 80,000, or even 100,00 cases a day.” 

However, Mody finds the European Union’s decision to open its borders to Canada “reasonable.” He justified this by stating that Europe is currently seeing a “very small number of cases” and he credited their advanced health care system, “similar to ours,” for this advancement. This might be good news to those looking forward to their European trips. Though, he admits that this decision is more about the promotion of economic and social well-being of the nations rather than about public health concerns.

When asked whether he would personally go out of Canada for vacation, he gave a simple answer: “No.”

Nevertheless, as a physician consulting a patient, he said, “I would have a conversation with them. Ask them, how important is this trip to you? If you understand the risks and consequences of what might happen, and you still choose to go, then that’s your choice.”

Choosing to go outside Canadian borders is just as important as evaluating airline protocols to guarantee customer safety.

Air Canada was approached to provide a statement on their protocols and had this to say: 

“We’ve introduced Air Canada CleanCare+, an industry-leading program committed to end-to-end health and safety protocols. Using new biosecurity standards and enhancing preventive measures, we are elevating the steps we’re taking to keep you safe throughout your travel with us, because we believe in putting safety first, always. For more information please visit aircanada.com/cleancareplus.

We appreciate the opportunity to address this matter, and hope to welcome the student body of the University of Calgary on board in the future.”

Whether one decides to go stay in Canada or go abroad, Mody wants the U of C student body to always “assess the risks,” with or without COVID-19.

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