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

Chemainus Public Market vendors venture outdoors

Different functions in the works to appeal to all tastes

Chemainus animal sanctuary needs your vote in nationwide contest

RASTA is up for $5,000 from Nutram; contest runs until May 31

Heartfelt memories of Derek Descoteau four years later

Victim of Chemainus murder and his brother leave a huge impact on a large group of friends

The Good Old Days

Glee club show from 67 years ago

City of Duncan, North Cowichan reopening municipal halls

North Cowichan’s municipal hall will reopen on June 15, but for tax payments only.

B.C. legislature coming back June 22 as COVID-19 emergency hits record

Pandemic restrictions now longer than 2017 wildfire emergency

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

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

B.C.’s essential grocery, hardware store employees should get pandemic pay: retail group

Only B.C.’s social, health and corrections workers are eligible for top-ups

Edmonton, Vancouver and Toronto vying to be NHL hubs, but there’s a catch

The NHL unveiled a return-to-play plan that would feature 24 teams

As SD84 schools look to reopen, Kyuquot and Zeballos opt out

Schools in Tahsis and Gold River will open on June 1, with 30 per cent students expected to come in

B.C. sees 9 new COVID-19 cases, one death as officials watch for new cases amid Phase Two

Number of confirmed active cases is at 244, with 37 people in hospital

Illicit-drug deaths up in B.C. and remain highest in Canada: chief coroner

More than 4,700 people have died of overdoses since B.C. declared a public health emergency in early 2016

CMHC sees declines in home prices, sales, starts that will linger to end of 2022

CMHC said average housing prices could fall anywhere from nine to 18 per cent in its forecast

B.C. Paralympian named to Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame

Three-time world and Paralympic gold medalist Sonja Gaudet is part of 11-member class

Most Read