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)

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

Environment Canada is forecasting snow for the east Vancouver Island region the weekend of Jan. 23. (Black Press file)
Up to 15 cm of snow forecast for Duncan area this weekend

Snow to begin Saturday night, according to Environment Canada

Sorting food to deliver to community members isolating due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Back row from left: Philomena Wilson, Sosefina Aleck, Ethan Wilson and Lucetta Wilson. In front is Kennedy Aleck. (Submitted)
“Let’s share a meal even if I can’t sit with you”: Cowichan woman’s food drive helps feed members in isolation

Positive response to missing ceremonies and rising racism benefits dozens of households

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the legislature, Jan. 11, 2021. (B.C. government)
Vancouver Island smashes COVID-19 high: 47 new cases in a day

Blowing past previous records, Vancouver Island is not matching B.C.s downward trend

This illustration provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in January 2020 shows the 2019 Novel Coronavirus. This virus was identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan, China. [CDC]
Lake Cowichan daycare closes for 10 days due to COVID-19 exposure

A client at Creative Angels Daycare came in contact with someone who tested positive

Businesses continue to struggle under COVID-19 restrictions as the pandemic reaches the one-year mark. (B.C. government)
Another 564 COVID-19 cases, mass vaccine plan coming Friday

15 more deaths, community cluster declared in Williams Lake

A specialized RCMP team is investigating a suspicious trailer, which might have connections to the illicit drug trade, found abandoned outside a Cache Creek motel. (Photo credit: <em>Journal</em> files)
Police probe U-Haul trailer linked to illicit drugs left outside Cache Creek motel

Hazardous materials found inside believed to be consistent with the production of illicit drugs

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Premier John Horgan leaves the podium following his first press conference of the year as he comments on various questions from the media in the Press Gallery at B.C. Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Monday, January 13, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Interprovincial travel restrictions a no-go, Horgan says after reviewing legal options

The B.C. NDP government sought legal advice as concerns of travel continue

The cost of potentially counting deer regionwide was among the issues that prompted Capital Regional District committee members to vote against pursuing a greater CRD role in deer management. (Black Press Media file photo)
Expanded deer management a non-starter for Greater Victoria

Capital Regional District committee maintains current level of support

Gem Lake Top, at Big White Ski Resort, seen at Jan. 8. (Big White Ski Resort)
Big White cancels $7.3M in lift tickets, accommodations due to COVID-19 orders

Since November, the ski resort has been forced to make several changes

Darlene Curylo scratched a $3M ticket, BCLC’s largest ever scratch and win prize. (BCLC)
Kelowna woman in shock after winning BCLC’s largest-ever instant-ticket prize

Darlene Curylo couldn’t believe her eyes when she saw the amount of money she’d won from a scratch ticket

While each person has different reasons for becoming homeless, a UBCO study shows they learn through their interactions with different services to perform ‘as homeless’ based on the expectations of service providers. (Contributed)
Kelowna homeless forced to ‘perform’ for resources, says UBCO study

One participant in the study said ‘It is about looking homeless, but not too homeless’

Aquaculture employee from Vancouver Island, Michelle, poses with a comment that she received on social media. Facebook group Women in Canadian Salmon Farming started an online campaign #enoughisenough to highlight the harassment they were facing online after debates about Discovery Islands fish farms intensified on social media. (Submitted photo)
Female aquaculture employees report online bullying, say divisive debate has turned sexist

Vancouver Island’s female aquaculture employees start #enoughisenough to address misogynistic comments aimed at them

Most Read