Sonia Furstenau, MLA for the Cowichan Valley, clockwise from top left; Mitzi Dean, MLA for Esquimalt-Metchosin; Kathy MacNeil, Island Health CEO; and Dr. Richard Stanwick, chief medical officer for Island Health participate in a virtual town hall on COVID-19 on Tuesday night. (B.C. Government image)

Only five COVID-19 patients across all Vancouver Island’s hospitals

Health officials at virtual town hall ask residents to ‘hold the line’

Health officials say Vancouver Island residents have done an ‘amazing’ job on flattening the curve during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A virtual town hall on COVID-19 was held Tuesday night, with provincial MLAs hosting the meeting as Island Health officials answered the public’s questions.

Kathy MacNeil, Island Health CEO, said as of Tuesday, April 21, there were only five people with COVID-19 diagnoses across all the region’s hospitals.

“That’s not the scenario we had planned for and that is a direct result of the work that people are doing in the community,” she said.

Dr. Richard Stanwick, the Island’s chief medical health officer, added that only 14 of the Island’s 109 total cases to date have been a result of “community spread” and not traceable to foreign travel or localized clusters.

He was asked if the low number of COVID-19 cases on the Island means there isn’t much herd immunity in the region, and if that means a second wave of the virus is coming.

“There’s is a concern that this flattening of the curve is merely a delaying tactic and as [the provincial health officer] has suggested, we’re likely going to see waves of this virus and each time we’ll probably have to step up, until we have a vaccine,” Stanwick said.

He said there is a “grave risk” in creating herd immunity, and he said an expansion of COVID-19 testing will give health officials a better picture about what sort of immunity is already present.

Stanwick said the Island has a limited capacity to do testing – about 460 test results can be processed in a day, compared to about 9,000 tests a day on the Lower Mainland – and said the priority until now has been testing seniors in long-term facilities, health workers and people who may have been exposed to known clusters of cases. Stanwick added that earlier in flu season, there were other respiratory viruses circulating, so testing systems would have become overwhelmed.

He did also say that expanded testing is part of a strategy to see if COVID-19 will disappear in the summer like some other viruses.

“It does look like we will be expanding testing criteria to be more inclusive so that people … who have respiratory symptoms will be able to contact 811 and get referred to our centres…” he said. “This is going to be useful because it will give us some indication about how much disease is circulating in the community.”

READ ALSO: Patients returning to B.C. hospitals as COVID-19 cases level off

Stanwick predicted that people will hear more about opportunities for increased social interaction in the coming days, as health officials recognize it’s important for people’s physical and mental wellness. He suggest relaxation of measures will be incremental, as health officials will assess how the “curve” is impacted along the way.

“We’ve demonstrated that we can maintain a quality of life and still put these protections in place,” MacNeil said, adding that “holding the line” by following physical distancing guidelines and other provincial health orders results in a health system that’s not overwhelmed.

About 300 questions were submitted by members of the public leading up to Tuesday’s town hall.

“Thank you to everybody across British Columbia who is staying home and doing their bit to protect us all,” said Mitzi Dean, MLA for Esquimalt-Metchosin, who co-hosted the town hall with Sonia Furstenau, MLA for the Cowichan Valley.

READ ALSO: Stay informed about COVID-19



editor@nanaimobulletin.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Coronavirus

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

Just Posted

Vancouver Island’s current COVID-19 case count officially hits zero

Of the 130 recorded Island Health cases, five people have died, 125 recovered

Valley artist gifts B.C.’s health officer with symbolic hummingbird

A special connection brought the piece to Dr. Bonnie Henry’s desk in Victoria

Black Lives Matter events planned for Courtenay

Peaceful gatherings are scheduled for Simms Park Friday and Saturday

Arnott taking medical leave as Comox mayor

Coun. Ken Grant will step in a mayor for time being

Comox Valley Regional District receives $100,000 to develop poverty action plan

Courtenay-Comox NDP MLA Ronna-Rae Leonard says a $100,000 grant in provincial funding… Continue reading

MAP: Dr. Henry reveals which B.C. regions have seen most COVID-19 cases

B.C. health officials release a first look at how the novel coronavirus has reached all corners of the province

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

B.C. starts to see employment return under COVID-19 rules

Jobless rate for young people still over 20% in May

Alert Bay resident carves tribute to his community kicking COVID-19’s butt

‘Our little village crushed the curve with love and commitment’

End of an Era: Tofino hair studio closes shop

“We were getting excited to start ramping up and then all of sudden we had to close our doors.”

Kelowna Mountie on desk duty following ‘aggressive’ arrest

The officer involved in an arrest that took place on May 30 in Kelowna has been placed on administrative duties

Protests shift to memorializing George Floyd amid push for change

‘There is something better on the other side of this,’ says Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottom

Limit gun capacity to five bullets, victims group urges Trudeau government

Current limits are generally five bullets for hunting rifles and shotguns and 10 for handguns.

COVID-19: Closed B.C. businesses allowed to sell liquor stock

Sales allowed to other licensees that can reopen

Most Read