EDITORIAL: Communities have a right to know when COVID-19 arrives locally

Island Health should be more forthcoming about where on the Island cases are confirmed

The very first thing everyone wanted to know when the first case of COVID-19 on Vancouver Island was announced was where on Vancouver Island the person is.

Frustratingly, Island Health and the provincial ministry do not provide this information to the public. They should.

The idea seems to be that they are protecting people’s privacy, which is important of course, and that they are encouraging everyone to behave as if the virus is in their community, rather than giving them a false sense of security by telling them it is elsewhere.

We question this reasoning, on both counts.

Announcing that there are eight cases or 12 cases on Vancouver Island is not good enough. People in every community have the right to know where the infection has infiltrated, and how serious the infection is in their community.

People are demanding information, and they deserve it.

If Island Health, or the ministry, thought people weren’t taking this pandemic seriously enough, they were correct. Until the slew of cancellations and closures that started at the end of last week, there was a feeling that the virus was somewhere else, and that perhaps it wouldn’t come here and affect our lives personally. Those attitudes changed overnight in the Comox Valley, when Dr. Tanja Daws went public, alerting the community that the disease had arrived there. Within 24 hours, the streets had emptied and people started staying home, which is exactly the message the authorities were trying to get across.

We have no doubt the reaction would have been the same in Cowichan. It’s not about creating panic, it’s about driving home the reality of the situation.

Privacy is an important consideration, but our communities are big enough that officials would not be giving it away if they specified if someone had been diagnosed in the Cowichan Valley.

If they want people to take this seriously, it’s time they start being more forthcoming with their announcements of where the infection has spread.


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

Comments are closed

Just Posted

North Cowichan mayor answers questions about new RCMP detachment

The current building went up in 1980, when there were 30 people working there.

B.C. Supreme Court dismisses claim against Island Corridor Foundation

Snaw-Naw-As (Nanoose) First Nation was seeking return of reserve land as railway sits unused

Man dies at temporary Duncan tent site for homeless

First Nations man died at The Mound site

No doctor assisted death allowed at Hamlets in Duncan

Faith-based company that owns facility believes in sanctity of life

UPDATED: Minivan crashes into Merchants building in downtown Duncan

There is no word yet on the cause of the crash.

All community COVID-19 outbreaks declared over in B.C.

Abbotsford manufacturer cleared by Dr. Bonnie Henry

B.C. First Nations vow to keep fighting after Trans Mountain pipeline appeal denied

Squamish Nation, Tsleil-Waututh Nation and Coldwater Indian Band made the application

‘Queue jumpers’ not welcome in B.C. as COVID-19 U.S. cases rise: Horgan

Premier Horgan said he’s heard concerns that Americans have stopped at Vancouver hotels instead of heading to their destination

US officer resigns after photos, connected to death of black man in 2019, surface

Elijah McClain died, last summer, after police placed him in a chokehold

Black worker files discrimination complaint against Facebook

Oscar Veneszee, Jr. has worked as an operations program manager at Facebook since 2017

Nestle Canada selling bottled water business to local family-owned company

The Pure Life bottled water business is being sold to Ice River Springs

Major B.C. salmon farm tests new containment system to curb sea lice infestations

System “essentially eliminates” contact between wild and farmed fish stocks, says Cermaq

US unemployment falls to 11%, but new shutdowns are underway

President Donald Trump said the jobs report shows the economy is “roaring back”

Most Read