I saw an interview on CBC-TV News Network today with a former colleague. It seems that he has a heart condition and needs an operation to replace the main valve. His surgery in Quebec has been delayed indefinitely because of the surging waves of hospitalizations of people with the COVID-19 Omicron virus.

It’s all hands on the COVID deck in Quebec hospitals these days, and there simply are not enough hands to handle all the cases because thousands of health-care workers are calling in sick with Omicron, too.

The interview (which is also in print on their Montreal website) has been part of the CBC News Network’s TV news loop all day, along with an interview with a woman in need of cancer surgery. According to the TV report, my former colleague, 67, could have a one in four chance of dying if he doesn’t get the heart surgery.

Thousands of other Quebecers have seen their surgeries postponed, too, as hospital ERs and ICUs fill up with COVID patients. While the Omicron virus may produce mild symptoms for the majority of people who have been vaccinated, it is making some unvaccinated people very ill as well as some who have been jabbed.

Daily death tolls from the virus are growing, with a record number — since the start of the pandemic — of patients in intensive care and 44 more deaths reported for Friday alone. Meanwhile, each day for the past two weeks, between 10,000 and 20,000 new cases have been confirmed, with many more mild cases not being reported.

A lot of people are pointing the finger at the unvaccinated, from politicians and pundits and the medical profession to the general public — and there is even talk by some officials of making vaccines mandatory for everyone. I’ve seen doctors in recent TV interviews saying the unvaccinated are putting a strain on the health system, and that much of it was preventable if more people had elected to be vaccinated. The Quebec College of Physicians is calling for more restrictions on the unvaxxed.

But if anyone is thinking that COVID-stricken unvaxxed people should be left to fend for themselves, the Quebec premier was quick to quell that line of thought during a press conference a week or so ago when he said: “That is not what Quebec is about.”

In other words, the medical system will take care of the people most in need first, and non-urgent surgeries will be done later. Sadly, some of those waiting for so-called non-urgent surgeries may die before they ever get them. They will be COVID victims, too, even though they won’t die from having the disease themselves. They’ll die because other people with the disease were given priority.

Meanwhile, the unelected leader of the People’s Party of Canada, Maxime Bernier, was reportedly among the hundreds who marched in Montreal Saturday to protest against COVID-19 health measures — a 10 p.m. provincial curfew, among them — and the expansion of the current vaccination passport restricting access to more places for the unvaxxed.

CBC Montreal News reported this: “Most of the demonstrators were maskless and did not respect physical distancing rules.”

And this: “We are here today because we know that enough is enough, and we want our rights and freedoms back,” said Maxime Bernier . . . calling for an end to the 10 p.m. curfew and to vaccination mandates. “There is no convincing case for compulsory COVID-19 vaccinations,” he tweeted. “Mandatory vaccine policies are a blunt tool aimed at covering up government ineptitude.”

Similar scenarios are playing out in cities and towns and villages around the world, to greater and lesser degrees. Omicron has swept the globe at ferocious speed, overwhelming everyone and putting people in positions they might never have dreamed of just a few years ago.

Bottom line: COVID is killing millions and making millions more sick. And the collateral damage is immeasurable.

Click, click . . .

— Jillian