A masked Vivian and Duncan Morris share a selfie in Thailand, where they remained for three months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Contributed)

Out of quarantine: Salmon Arm residents back in Canada compare COVID-19 response

Travellers find pushback on mask use not as prevalent overseas as at home

Vivian Morris remembers sharing a nervous laugh with her husband Duncan when they were handed face masks by their Hanoi cab driver.

“That’s when we started to see the early warnings…,” she explained. “We chuckled and put them on. The momentum kind of built from there.”

It was mid-February, 2020. Word of Coranavirus, later referred to as COVID-19, had reached the Salmon Arm couple, though use of masks was already common among people in Southeast Asia.

“Masks are part of the… culture, so whenever anybody is sick they wear a mask,” said Vivian.

Vietnam’s first case of COVID-19 was confirmed on Jan. 23. Before the country would implement travel restrictions, the Morris’ were in Bangkok, Thailand, where they would remain for the next three months.

During that time, the two experienced Thailand’s COVID-19 response.

The first case of COVID-19 outside of China was reported by Thailand on Jan. 13. With policy informed by previous pandemics, Thailand began a program of surveillance and and contact tracing. Not long after Thailand saw an increase in confirmed cases related to a public fighting event, a national state of emergency was declared.

While other countries would later follow suit, Vivian said a difference was in how Thailand was quick to utilize extensive contact tracing, and how “everybody wore masks if in public.”

“Any public building you went into and a lot of businesses would take your temperature,” said Morris. “All the staff wore masks and shields and there was hand sanitizer everywhere.”

Read more: Salmon Arm man offers insight, advice from quarantine in France

Read more: COVID-19: Internationally renowned virus specialist raised in Salmon Arm provides hopeful news, warning

Later, when businesses began to reopen, Vivian said she and Duncan were comfortable to be out in public.

“You can’t physically distance when there’s eight million people… so we always wore masks,” said Vivian. “When they opened up at the end of April, we felt perfectly comfortable going anywhere.”

Morris notes that despite having a population of almost 70 million, to date Thailand has seen 3,376 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 58 deaths.

The Morris’ were able to return to Salmon Arm in May. One of the first signs that Canada’s pandemic wasn’t yet where Thailand came during a meeting with an unmasked immigration official.

“An immigration official at the Vancouver airport came right up to me, completely unmasked, to talk, and I just was horrified,” said Vivian. “Here’s somebody dealing with hundreds of people every single day and they’re breathing in my face.”

Brent and Rose-Marie Kowk recently returned to Canada from Nantes in France. After six months in a country that’s recorded more than 200,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and more than 30,000 related deaths, the two are relieved to be home once more in Salmon Arm, having just completed their quarantine.

Brent said he and Rose-Marie also received an unwanted welcome when they returned to Canada.

“It just so happened when we came out of the Calgary airport, the first people that drove by us as we walked out the door… they were yelling not very nice things about us wearing a mask. It was like, welcome back to Canada,” said Brent.

Most people Brent saw in France were wearing masks out in public before the French government made them mandatory.

“If that’s what it means so you don’t have to get locked down again, we’re happy to wear a mask,” said Brent, who works at Shuswap Lake General Hospital in maintenance.

Read more: Sicamous asks people to use face masks, not police others

Read more: ‘Don’t kill my mom’: Ryan Reynolds calls on young British Columbians to be COVID-smart

The pushback on masks in Canada Brent believes has to do with peoples’ stress levels being heightened by the pandemic.

“Everybody, their stress level is very high,” said Brent. “If it makes somebody feel a little bit easier if they put a mask on and walk through a store, then let them do that.”

Overall though, Brent appreciates the effort he’s seeing at home to curve COVID-19, and is optimistic it will continue to pay off provided everyone continues to do their part.

“Hopefully, when the fall comes around, it’s not going to be the big second wave that they figure…,” said Brent. “I like to be more positive about this and think we’re trying to do the right thing…”

Vivian is also pleased with the stricter actions being taken by the federal government, and the encouraging guidance of Dr. Henry.

“When we were in quarantine for two weeks, we got phone call every day provincially and federally, both of us…,” said Vivian. “If I stepped off my driveway and somebody reported me, it’s a $750,000 to $1 million fine. I wanted to check my mail, but I was too afraid to cross the street.”

In addition to mask use, Vivian would also like to see temperature taking at public buildings and more hand sanitizer stations.

“I’d like to see consistency and protocols – I think we’ll get there,” said Vivian.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Salmon Arm

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Keremeos mountie assaulted by alleged impaired driver

The officer was responding to reports of a collision in Cawston

COLUMN: Search and find books still popular at the library

Where’s Waldo and other picture puzzle books provide entertainment for all ages

Boot launches campaign with Facebook Live event

NDP candidate for riding of Penticton joined by John Horgan, Richard Cannings and others

Osoyoos awards $77,000 contract for universal water metering

TR Underwood Engineering won the bid for planning and implementing water meters across town

Orange Shirt Society launches first textbook on residential school history

Phyllis Webstad and Joan Sorley worked on the 156-page book to help educate students

Okanagan teen wheels along for new playground

Aiden Satterthwaite hopes to unicycle 41 kms to raise money for playground in Valley of the Sun

More sex abuse charges laid against B.C. man who went by ‘Doctor Ray Gaglardi’

Investigators now focussing efforts on alleged victims within the Glad Tidings Church community

Orange Shirt Day lessons of past in today’s classrooms

Phyllis Webstad, who attended St. Joseph’s Mission Residential School in British Columbia, is credited for creating the movement

Greens’ Furstenau fires at NDP, Liberals on pandemic recovery, sales tax promise

She also criticized the NDP economic recovery plan, arguing it abandons the tourism industry

U.S. Presidential Debate Takeaways: An acrid tone from the opening minute

Here are key takeaways from the first of three scheduled presidential debates before Election Day on Nov. 3

Peachland resident finds severed bear paw on driveway

Tracie Gordon thought it was a Halloween prank, but it turned out to be a real bear paw

B.C. nurses report rise in depression, anxiety, exhaustion due to pandemic

A new UBC study looks into how the COVID-19 response has impacted frontline nurses

Most Read