By Lyonel Doherty
Because draconian measures are necessary to win the fight against COVID-19, the province’s top doctor is continuing to urge people to live a virtual lifestyle as opposed to a physical one.
In today’s news update, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said her order to prohibit gatherings to no larger than 50 people is not a punitive one but very necessary for everyone’s well-being.
She noted that smaller is better when it comes to gatherings, adding that even groups of two or three people can act as a transmission point.
Henry said people cannot and should not be gathering in parks or any other venues for celebrations or ceremonies.
“I’m asking you right now (as spiritual and community leaders), there is a need to come together virtually to protect ourselves.”
Henry reported the latest COVID-19 statistics, noting there are 42 new cases in B.C., bringing the total to 695, including 46 cases in the Interior Health region.
She reported a total of nine long-term care facility outbreaks, with 64 people hospitalized and 26 being treated in intensive care.
Henry said there are no additional cases at Lynn Valley care home but reported one additional death there.
She stated that most of the people hospitalized with COVID-19 are older or impacted by underlying medical conditions.
Henry did report that 183 people have fully recovered from the virus in B.C.
The current challenge the government is facing is a shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) for health care workers.
She pointed out there has been a dramatic use in PPE, so they are finding it a challenge to ensure there is an adequate supply.
Henry said they are actively monitoring their PPE and looking at measures to control their use.
“We’re at a critical phase with PPE . . . so we are looking at alternative supplies.”
The doctor was candid in expressing the challenge that health care workers are facing; many are worried about getting sick and passing the virus on to family members. She noted that approximately 55 health care workers are affected by the virus relating to the outbreaks at the nine long-term care facilities.
“We’re doing everything we can to protect the elderly and seniors in these homes.”
During question period, Henry reiterated their COVID-19 testing strategy is primarily focused on health care workers, long-term care clients and people in hospital or likely to be hospitalized.
She said that people who have symptoms and are at home in isolation may not be tested.
Henry said the whole purpose is to try to catch people before they pass it on to others.
Even if people think they have a cold, they need to stay away from others and stay home until they are better, Henry said.
“It’s a bit of a dance right now.”
Henry said the province needs everyone (100 per cent) to do their part by making sacrifices that are necessary to stop spreading this disease.