COVID-19 disease; SARS-CoV-2 Virus

Maintenance Connection Canada

Created: 2020.03.06 | Last updated: 2020.10.06

Our COVID-19 (Disease) SARS-CoV-2 (Virus) comments:

The SARS-CoV-2 virus, through the COVID-19 disease is changing our society quickly. We have chosen to NOT be one of the ones plugging your email addresses with our COVID-19 thoughts and responses every day. Here are our comments, we will update them as seems appropriate over the coming months and years.

This blog started when our owner got back from a business trip to Central America in early March 2020 and shortly prior to that a trip for a conference in Spain and the bulk of the world was mostly ignoring COVID-19 as 'a China and a dozen cities in the USA thing.' Indeed, in Spain no one, including our owner, had even heard of COVID-19 or at least never mentioned it even though in hindsight it was already in Spain when he travelled there and on March 5, the only 'sign' was a handful of people in Texas with masks - mostly around their necks, not covering their faces. On return to Canada the only question asked relevant to COVID-19 at the airport was "Have you been to China in the last 14 days'. A couple days later he went into 14 day isolation, a couple days after entering isolation it become in vogue (around March 12th, 2020) to isolate after travel and shortly he came out of his 14 day isolation (March 25, 2020) it became mandatory in his location to self isolate for 14 days.

We are experts in WFH:

The owner of MCC has been an expert in the WFH (Work From Home) culture for 30 years. Over 90% of MCC staff have been working from home since ‘day one’.

The other 10% also works most of the time from home and we reduced this further a few weeks ago to the point that none of our staff have worked from ‘the office’ for over a month now (So as of early April, 2020).

We are doing the final stages of converting our accounting and related systems to electronic only. We have been, again, more than 90% of the way there already, our goal is 100%.

Really, the only thing holding us back from reaching the 100% goal is that some customers still send payment via paper cheques in the mail.

If you would like our assistance in getting your WFH working more efficient, contact us, even if you just want a short talk to learn from our successes and mistakes.

Other responses:

We are also suspending all non-emergency travel until June 15th 2020, (3 months) and will consider extending that if it seems prudent. But again, we have, for more than 20 years, been doing the vast majority of our customer support electronically. 2020.05.15 Coming as no surprise to anyone, we have extended non-emergency travel indefinitely, and being realistic, this could mean years, until there is a widespread vaccine and/or the heard solution has come about. Like many others, we have been predicting in Canada that if schools open in September, that there will be another massive shutdown by the end of October. In some parts of Canada the decision has already been made, (2020.07.15:) and it is rumored (well second hand info in our case) that Dr. Deena Hinshaw, chief medical officer in Alberta is being pressured by the Education minister and the ATA (Alberta Teacher's association) to open schools fully on September 1st 2020 regardless of the health risk. 2020.07.24: Yup, we are opening September 1st and listening to Dr. Hinshaw, the ATA, the Education minister and the Premier, their very careful choices of words indicate to us very clearly that Hinshaw was opposed to opening on Sept 1st 2020 but was given no choice (Hinshaw is clearly not recommending it, but the others keep saying they are following her rules - never suggesting that she thinks it is the right decision or that it is her recommendation). 2020.07.26 - the medical community is criticizing the decision to open schools saying it will flood the hospital system beyond capacity, and that while they are ramping up to prepare for the huge increase, they think the government is irresponsible to suggest that this is going to have little effect.

In any event, our business response is: COVID-19 is going to be a major influence on the lives of people around the world for likely 3 or 4 years - it is not over, it is not going away, so our objective is how to deal with it and how to help our customers deal with it as effectively as possible. We are also convinced that the economic and societal effects will continue well into the future, even when it is gone and forgotten why we made these changes.

For sales 'in' country our staff are in, it will be at the discretion of the salesperson and the customer whether in person sales change to fully electronic, subject to following all local rules plus any practical ways to increase safety of the individuals on our team and the people we come in contact with. Avoidance of contact being the primary technique we are recommending and following.

Some talk about travel

Circa 2020.9, A look at the issues of travel outside your country, using Canada and Costa Rica, a combination which, for business reasons, we are very familiar with and watching closely, with a little bit about other countries. But in general, many of these factors will apply for other combinations.

  • Costa Rica requires you to have to have a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours before coming, up until recently it was 48 hours. But tests in some areas, like the Calgary, Alberta, Canada, are taking up to 5 and a half days to come back, while some come back within the 72 hours, not a high enough percentage for this to be practical. The practical issues of potentially missing your flights due to not having test results back in time make this appear to be a huge risk. Update 2020.10.06 I'm hearing that some US and Canadian travellers to Costa Rica are being given a real hassle and sometimes forced to buy the Costa Rica health insurance because the immigration people at the Airport in Costa Rica aren't accepting their US/Canadian insurance paperwork, written in English, they are also experiencing other hassles and long waits upon arrival before finally being admitted.

  • While many airlines are saying that, if you miss your flight due to reasons like the above, they will let you rebook, it isn't even close to as good as it sounds. This is fine if you are paying the full rate, but if you got a discount ticket, you can easily end up having to pay 3x's the original price of the ticket to get a 'free' transfer of the ticket. You see, the fine print says they will credit your ticket price against a new ticket, NOT that they will fly you to and from the same destination for the price of the ticket. So that $50 or $500 ticket you got, may easily end up being a $1500 ticket that you have to pay the difference if you miss your flight for basically any reason including test results not back in time or flight cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions.

    • Sadly, the risk of you missing your flight due to HAVING COVID-19 is less than 1% based on test results in Alberta Canada, and most of those are people who are concerned they might have been infected, so if you are just getting the test because you want to fly, I suspect your chances are less than 0.1% of missing your flight because you "have" COVID-19. I'm assuming that people are 10x's more likely to have a test because of a suspected contact than they are if they have no suspected contact.
  • expensive health insurance is required by the Costa Rica government before you travel. Not as expensive as previously, previously they were requiring you buy THEIR insurance which people were reporting was costing $2000USD for a one week visit. Now you can get insurance from your home country - but be very careful that you get the 'right' insurance.

  • But you have to travel OVER the USA, because the USA has such a high rate of infection. Update 2020.10: you are now allowed to stop in the US as long as your layover is less than 15 hours and you don't leave the airport. If you are FROM the USA, it depends on what state your driver's license is from and a few other rules, so some US residents are now allowed to visit Costa Rica. But you still can't visit Canada - we'll let you drive straight through to your Alaska, but otherwise we don't let you in yet - you are the world's highest risk right now.

  • Then on landing you have to self isolate for 14 days. Update 2020.10: you no longer have to self isolate upon arrival in Costa Rica, your 'negative' test you had to have come with you allows you to skip this 14 day delay. This is a huge step towards making travel a little less onerous.

  • When you are done your trip, in many places, like Canada, upon your return to Canada you have to go into isolation for 14 (some places longer) days, not being in contact with your spouse or children even. So if everyone in the same household doesn't travel, this makes any trip a major headache upon return, and it is even worse if you are someone who has to 'go' to work. You need 14 days more holiday time than your holiday. This is not a rule governments are likely to change soon in our opinion because it encourages vacations in your own province/state/country and discourages travel away from your home base - COVID-19 is an excellent excuse for the government to look like they are trying to help when they are instead trying to protect their local interests.

So if you want to travel, you first need to figure out where you are coming from and where you are going. Why coming from? You may have to move to another state for a couple weeks if you are in the USA before you can travel. Then you need to carefully look at all the rules for going and returning. Then you have to add in risk factors for what happens if one end or the other changes it's rules while you are away. In general, if you are working, you are still (2020.10) probably better off staying in your home country/province/state for now unless you have a compelling reason to travel - and a holiday likely isn't compelling.

Practical help, ventilators:

One of the senior members on our team, Richard Crutchley, is using his expertise to help during this time of crisis. He has been given leave to help as he is able.

He reported that:

"I was recently contacted by Head of Business Engagement, Principal Lecturer in Computer Science at University of Wolverhampton in the UK who, as I understand, is assisting the government in enlisting UK Manufacturers to build ventilators. The contact had worked on a study project with me a number of years ago and was hoping that I was still local but realized I now reside in Canada. I messaged him back and said he could call me.

I had heard via media sources that globally non-medical device manufacturers could use any spare capacity to produce ventilators for their respective health organizations. Initially I was skeptical but I had given it some thought.

During our call I suggested that it was impractical to redesign a device from scratch because it would take too long to design, build, test and deploy such a device. I have not been directly involved as a Biomedical Engineer for 10 years but I thought back to my work as an Intensive Care Unit Technician and remembered that we had used on occasion the “Manley Ventilator”. It was a device used for a number of decades in the UK as a workhorse ventilator before the introduction of electronics to the therapy. We discussed the fact that although it is an older design it required little maintenance. Assuming the plans were available, patents could well have lapsed and it should be possible for manufacturers to create parts then a small assembly line could be put together to build these units. The “Manley Ventilator” approach to ventilation was preferred by our medical staff because it gave a preset fixed volume of gas rather that the alternative “Bird” ventilator where the cycles were triggered by pressure.

They are attempting to locate the plans for it, they have a 3D metal printer that they are going to use to build prototypes."

We will share updates when we are able to.

We hope this information is helpful. We are sure there are people in Canada and the USA and other countries looking into the practicalities of building ventilators en masse and there may be medical and legal reasons that I am not aware of which may make this form of ventilation unsuitable. If we can be of further assistance during this pandemic, we are happy to volunteer in any suitable capacity. We are now passing this info on to people that may be able to get this information in the right hands, politicians that we have a relationship with and customers that might be able to get it correctly such as our hospital customers

We are a worldwide company with offices and customers in countries on several continents even though our name is ‘Maintenance Connection Canada’. The offer to help applies to all countries that we legally can, not just Canada, the USA and the UK.

Crutchley, worked for 30 years as a biomedical engineer in the NHS maintaining and repairing equipment in the ICU and Operating Theatres. He was also the Quality Management Representative for the Medical Devices Department (ISO13485). Prior to his move to Canada he was a Team Leader for the Biomedical Engineers covering ICU, Operating Rooms and Renal Dialysis for 10 years. Currently, he is the Director of Operations for a Computerized Maintenance Management/EAS Software company with both online and offline/mobile applications in Maintenance Connection Canada and Cascadia CMMS Inc. and also an active Consultant for the implementation of a number of ISO standards. He is also an IRCA Certificated Auditor for Quality Assurance.

Costa Rica news 2020.07.29 While the number of cases per day has been skyrocketing according our staff in Costa Rica, the government has invited Canadians and others (notably not people from the USA) to enter their country as long as they meet a few rules such as getting a COVID-19 test within 48 hours prior to departure. Not only that but, on August 1st 2020 when this happens, there will be NO requirement to self isolate for 14 days upon arrival for these travelers. Of course, you have to g t of Costa Rica has decided that the economic damage of the REACTION to COVID-19 has been worse than the disease itself.

2020.07.29 I (Peter, the owner of Maintenance Connection Canada) have been saying since the middle of March that I am not in any way saying that the various governments have or have not made the right choices. I have opinions, but I my focus is on my family including my business family which includes staff, contractors and customers around the world. I am well aware I do not have enough information (or even just data) to believe that I know what the right action is. My comments in this blog are trying to understand what my personal and corporate RESPONSE should be to be as moral and legal and effective and useful (and many other words) as possible. There are very few things where I am certain about my opinions. I will risk criticism by stating the ones here that I am certain of:

  • Shutting down Churches but leaving Casinos open in Alberta was one obvious one that I commented on - should both stay open? perhaps, but shutting down Churches while leaving Casinos free to spread the virus - that was clearly political doublespeak.

  • Opening schools in September 2020 saying "We are following Hinshaw's rules" without mentioning that Hinshaw recommended AGAINST opening them, that was wrong. Should the open? That I'm not saying I know the correct answer.

2020.08.04 Canada's Chief health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, finally realized today (at least realized today 'publicly') that even WITH a vaccine, COVID-19 is going to be a major disruption for 2 or 3 years. That even with a vaccine, restrictions may have to be in place "for several years". With more than 150 vaccines being tested, surely, being cautiously optimistic, one of these will actually make a significant difference. It was also reported today that 'there are over 166 vaccines .... being tested' (Ah ... so 167?) She seemed to be rebuking the Canadian Federal government for treating it economically as a 3-4 month problem instead of as a 3-4 year problem. Wonder if she'll lose her job for making our Prime Minister lose face? At a minimum, I can see the government switching to having her give written statements instead of so many verbal ones so they can make sure the statements reflect Trudeau's preferences for information leakage.

The Government of Canada app is not being widely adopted. So far only 1.1 million downloads (less than 3% of the population) have occurred. It has been estimated that we need at least 60% of the population to download it for it to have a large impact. One news outlet today suggested that the Canadian public are not trusting the Trudeau government promises that they aren't using the data for other purposes as well - though several security specialists have said they are not concerned that the Trudeau government may be tracking the data for anything other than what they have said they are using it for.

Update 2020.10.01 I'm having trouble finding any updated information on this app, the latest I can find is more than a month old and says there were now 2.2 million downloads, which puts it at 6% of the population. The government is (was at least) restricting who can download it by province. Also don't mistake the tracker app with the 'Canada COVID-19' app which is trying to fool you into installing the wrong app (maybe that is part of the reason for the poor uptake?) It looks like the correct one is "COVID Alert" from Health Canada. The reviews online are mixed, issues like: If you happen to be within a block or two of someone who had COVID-19, and you go get tested and it comes back negative, you can't reset the app until the 14 day period is over - so you don't get advised if you come within a block or two of ANOTHER person with COVID-19. The official response was "It clears after 14 days... if you have any questions..."

Update 2020.10.02 CTV reports that the app is still not available in Alberta, that there is no timeline for it being available in Alberta, and that because of the Federal one, the Alberta one can't use the google/Apple service because Google and Apple are restricting their service to just one per country. On the other hand, Alberta is doing pretty well compared to the provinces that DO have the app, based on the latest reports from the goverment over where the virus is fully into round 2. Currently: Ontario, Saskatchewan, Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick and Manitoba can use the federal app. It also reports that the number of downloads is 3 million, so about 9% of Canada's population, but given how few people have access to it, it is more like 18% of those that CAN use it have downloaded it - I'm assuming very few people who can't use it have downloaded it, but obviously I could be wrong.

Note: ALberta's app (that is blocked by the feds from using the iPhone/Android service) was launched in May but has serious problems on the iPhone. The feds launched theirs in July 2020.

2020.08.08 Optimism seems to be abounding that COVID-19 is essentially over and that we will not return to the strict economic shutdown rules of earlier this year and that borders and flights will open this fall. I'm not sure where this optimism is coming from, I must be missing something! I hope it is right, but I am not betting on it yet.

2020.09 and .10, see travel notes above.

2020.10.06 It appears we have entered an era where there is not enough information posted about COVID-19. How am I unilaterally determining that? Because I was informed that my posting here was wrong, that it isn't COVID-19, it should be CoVID-19. It is not as if I haven't seen CoVID-19 in various US newspapers who also call it the Wuhan Virus and the China-Virus and other such names reminiscent of the "Spanish Flu" (Which incident's didn't have it's origins in Spain)

So, I breathed a heavy sigh, then went to do some research. After basically an hour of mostly wasted time: What I have determined is that we have been doing it correctly. The disease is indeed officially named 'COVID-19' and not any other variation of capitalization or words. For those interested, the virus itself is called "SARS-CoV-2", the lower case o in CoV of the virus likely the reason that some have taken to calling the disease "CoVID-19". It also isn't "COVID" - there are lots of COVID diseases. From my research, all 4 of the most common "Common Cold"s are COVIDs, as are a bunch of other less common "Common Cold"s. "COVID stands for COronaVIrus Disease discovered in 2019", so CO are the 1st 2 letters of Coronavirus and VI are 2 letters from the 4th syllable of Coronavirus - although for English people VI are the 1st two letters of the second 'word' in the compound word coronavirus. The D means it is talking about the DISEASE not the virus. If you say "COVID-19 virus, you are saying the SARS-CoV-2 virus that is causing the COVID-19. The 19 is from that annoying habit of Americans using only the last 2 digits of the year when trying to confuse people (Remember the events of the 3 days that are displayed as: 01/02/03?) And COVID-19 and SARS-CoV-2 are not 'English' words, they come from the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses and the World Health Organization.

2020.11.27 I have tried to stay out of the political side of COVID-19, but 3 things happened this past week that left me feeling I should jump in.

First, in Canada, Justin Trudeau, who is in the second year of his SECOND mandate, his first was a majority, blamed the previous government for there not being enough facilities to create vaccines! That was just too much for me to stay silent. If he really believed they were at fault, he should have started to do something in the YEARS that he has been in control. To blame the previous government for that was just too petty, too ridiculous for me to stay silent.

Second, in Alberta (province in Canada), someone, who based on the NDP statements and the CBC report, was one or more unionized public servant(s), released tapes of private conversations taken when they were under oath to NOT reveal the info. This was with respect to discussions of all sorts of people who are trying to decide and advise for dealing with COVID-19. Conversations like that are kept secret so that people can give they HONEST opinions so that the BEST POSSIBLE decisions can be made. But this slimy, disrespectful, cheating stool-pidgeon released recording of the conversations they promised to keep secret. This person or these persons should be removed from any jobs they have and their names made public after they are convicted in court. But what does Notley, the leader of the NDP say? She says that not only should nothing be done about this cheating, untrustworthy person(s), but that the government should invoke it's ability to FURTHER release MORE of the secret discussions - causing ALL trust to be lost for decades to come. This was a sleasy, political maneuver by Notley and is especially disgusting in these very trying times.

Third, helping keep everything in perspective, it was revealed, or at least claimed, that North Korea has executed people to avoid economic damage by COVID-19.

And finally, no I am not going to give my uninformed opinions about how much right and wrong I think the various governments of the countries I deal with, including my own, are doing. I do not know enough and I thank God that I am not the one that has to make the hard decisions and then be brutally attacked from all sides about not doing enough/doing too much/being dishonest/being blah blah blah.

On the good side today, after blaming the previous government for delays, Trudeau has said that most people should be able to get a COVID-19 vaccine by September 2021 and that, by the time vaccines are approved, the Trudeau government will have a plan for how they will accomplish this. That puts it about 16 months after the pandemic started, and I think that means several world records will have been set for vaccine creation.

Despite a significant drop in revenue this year due to customers cutting back or going bankrupt due to COVID-19, we've also started to get new sales and I dropped my own salary close to zero earlier this year and as a result I've still been able to keep every staff member on my team around the world. I (the owner) will be doing my very best to keep everyone, and I think that is a realistic goal. I think we provide value for many companies and industries to help them through the COVID-19 era, and it seems that while some have had to shrink, others, including new sales, have seen the value in using our software to run their businesses more effectively.