It’s difficult to write something about the coronavirus which will be read several days into the future.

With the dizzying developments of last week, anything we write will likely be hopelessly out of date by the time you see it.

But we’ll give it a shot.

Anyway, as this is being written, it’s early Saturday morning, and nothing big seems to be happening in the ever-changing world of the coronavirus at this very moment based on a quick check of the Internet. It’s a welcomed break – if undoubtedly a temporary one – from the story gripping Hay River, Canada and the world.

Last week, so many things happened that it seemed like the

world we know is disappearing. That is not the case, of course, but it is an understandable feeling.

On a national and international level, there was an almost complete shutdown of professional sports, a panicky stock market, travel restrictions and more.

Coronavirus has started to impact the North and Hay River with the cancellation of the Arctic Winter Games and postponement of an education conference on the Hay River Reserve, and even a delay of the latest Chase the Ace lottery in Hay River.

We can expect many other jolts to the system in the future.

But we cannot lose sight of the fact that the real issue is health, not whether the NBA or the NHL will complete their seasons. All that is irrelevant.

As individuals, we have to stay focused on the coronavirus and COVID-19, the new respiratory disease it causes, not the effects on sports, the economy and things we cannot control. Business and government will take care of all that, but we as ordinary people can have an impact on the spread of the virus.

As of March 13, there have been no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Northwest Territories, and we hope that is still the case when you read this.

However, it would be a little bit too much to ask that the NWT could remain free of coronavirus that is spreading around the world. We can hope, but it’s unrealistic hope.

So what can we do?

Well, we should do everything that we possibly can to limit the effects of the coronavirus if and when it arrives in the NWT and the Hay River area.

Wash your hands. Practise social distancing. Cover your sneezes. Don’t shake hands. Get tested if you think you need to be. Don’t travel unless absolutely necessary.

We are particularly concerned about the upcoming spring break, a traditional time for travelling. This would be a good time to abandon that tradition just for one year. It seems much of the world is shutting down, anyway.

If all of us do our part, the effects of coronavirus can be lessened, and hopefully we can all come out on the other side of this.

A global pandemic is an unnerving thing. But this one can and will be beaten.

How bad it will get in Hay River, the NWT and even Canada will largely depend on whether people take all the precautions they can.

Whatever you can do to help in this fight, do it.

Paul Bickford

Paul Bickford is the reporter for Hay River Hub.

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