No need to say that it is a strange time in Hay River and the NWT, and the rest of the world for that matter.

A pandemic has that effect on things.

However, as the old proverb goes, every cloud has a silver lining.

It may be hard to see a silver lining in the Covid-19 pandemic, which has sickened and killed so many people around the world. It doesn’t seem possible that anything good can come out of such a human tragedy, which is just made worse by its effects on the economy and people’s ability to lead normal lives.

Yet, there is one surprising and positive side effect of the battle against Covid-19.

Because of all the health precautions people have been taking — wearing masks, keeping social distance, washing hands and more — cases of influenza have basically disappeared in Canada this winter, except for some in eastern Ontario.

Speaking on Jan. 27, Dr. Kami Kandola, the chief public health officer for the NWT, said there had not been a case of the flu in the NWT this season.

Kandola said that it is the first time in her 17 years working in the NWT that she hasn’t seen a single case of the flu.

Normally, there are hundreds of cases in the NWT each year.

Admittedly, the flu is not as dangerous as Covid-19, but it is still a good idea to avoid the flu. Aside from making people sick and keeping them away from work and school, the flu can also be fatal for some people.

So as everyone fights Covid, it is undoubtedly a good thing that the flu is also being beaten back.

Kandola suggested that, once the Covid-19 pandemic is over, people should continue the health measures to protect themselves against the flu.

That’s an interesting idea.

Hopefully the Covid-19 pandemic is over soon so it can be seen what health measures people may maintain in their daily lives.

Washing hands more often, using hand sanitizer and covering sneezes have always been good ideas, even before Covid-19. Hopefully the experience of a pandemic will make those practices even more common and widespread.

It is kind of doubtful that most people will maintain physical distancing post-pandemic. That just seems a difficult thing for social people.

It is even more unlikely that people will maintain small bubbles of relatives and/or friends. While that is now encouraged to fight Covid-19, bubbles will likely disappear when they are not being called for by government.

However, it will be most fascinating to see if wearing facemasks persists beyond the Covid-19 pandemic.

Even before Covid-19, facemasks for public health had been common in some countries — China, for example.

In the West, facemask-wearing was extremely rare prior to Covid-19.

Of course, now it is common in Hay River and just about everywhere else, even despite resistance by some people.

Once the pandemic is over, which will hopefully be sooner rather than later, it is likely that some people will continue wearing facemasks for protection against the flu.

If that happens, the pandemic will have resulted in at least one good thing.

Paul Bickford

Paul Bickford is the reporter for Hay River Hub.

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