(Black Press Media file photo)

(Black Press Media file photo)

OPINION: Island Health doctors call on residents to ‘double down’ to slow spread of COVID-19

Positive cases increasing at a rate that causes concern for health officers

By Dr. Richard Stanwick, Dr. Charmaine Enns, Dr. Dee Hoyano, Dr. Murray Fyfe, Dr. Shannon Waters and Dr. Sandra Allison,

Island Health medical health officers

Now is the time to double down on our efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19.

We have watched the rapid increase of COVID-19 cases and outbreaks on the Lower Mainland over the past weeks. Until recently, the number of positive cases throughout Island Health remained relatively low. This was not by luck. It was the result of hard work by people in communities across our region who took their responsibility to prevent the spread of this virus very seriously, supported by Island Health’s staff working to control COVID-19.

To everyone who has taken their responsibilities seriously to protect themselves, their loved ones, and our health-care system, we thank you.

The number of positive cases across Island Health are increasing, and increasing at a rate that causes us great concern. In the last two weeks, we saw 117 new cases, compared to 24 new cases in the previous two weeks. We must turn this trend around.

READ MORE: At least 66 of the Island’s fall COVID-19 cases were people who travelled

Some of the recent Island Health cases came from Halloween parties and other group social gatherings. People at these events acquired the virus and subsequently spread it to others – in their families, with their friends, and in the workplace.

With the growth in cases, we cannot be more clear in our ask of you – to take action now. We need you to increase your vigilance and do not let down your guard. We can bend the curve down again by staying home when we are sick, sticking to our safe six, staying 2m/6ft apart from others, washing our hands frequently and wearing a mask when we cannot observe physical distancing of 2m/6ft.

Provincial Health Officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, put new orders and recommendations in place that further limit social gathering by people within Fraser Health and Vancouver Coastal Health. She has asked all residents of B.C. not to travel unless it is essential. Please stay in your home communities.

Since the beginning of September to the first week of November, 86 of the 133 cases in Island Health arose from travel – either islanders going somewhere or travelers coming here. The travel ranged from overseas, other parts of Canada, to the Lower Mainland. Further, these individuals passed the virus on to 11 others who in turn infected four more people. Some of this travel was deemed essential but not all.

READ MORE: B.C. premier calls for national COVID-19 travel restrictions

Now is not the time to travel outside of the Island Health region unless it’s essential, and it’s not the time to invite friends and family from outside of our region to visit or stay with us. Please stay close to home. It is easy to think we will not be the ones who transmit COVID-19 to others when we come back to the island, but the fact is, it could be any one of us who unknowingly acquires and spreads COVID-19 infection.

We know people need to find ways to stay connected. While we need to limit our social interactions so we can keep our schools and workplaces open – and keep each other safe in our homes and in our community – it is important that we do what we can to support each other. These are challenging times, particularly for those who may live alone. Please reach out to your friends and your loved ones who may be at risk. Let them know they are not alone and find ways stay connected to them virtually.

Now is the time to ask yourself the difficult questions. What is truly essential travel? Is now the time to sit inside with a friend or is it better to grab a coffee and go for a walk outside? Will taking a pass on the games night this weekend be a big deal?

We have flattened our curve, we can do it again, by all of us doing our part and taking the actions we know will keep us safe in the coming weeks and months.

Our sincere appreciation for everything you are doing to protect yourselves and your communities. We will get through this together by working together and doing what is necessary to curb the spread of COVID-19.

In health,

Island Health Medical Health Officers

Dr. Richard Stanwick

Dr. Charmaine Enns

Dr. Dee Hoyano

Dr. Murray Fyfe

Dr. Shannon Waters

Dr. Sandra Allison

READ MORE: B.C. records deadliest day of pandemic with 11 deaths, 717 new COVID cases

Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and like us on Facebook.

CoronavirusIsland Health

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

Just Posted

Tim Sutherland Sr. likes to go down to Harbour Quay and feel the breeze on his face. On stormy days when the wind whips the rain into his face, he thinks of his son Tim Sutherland Jr., and wonders whether he is warm and dry. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
Finding shelter from the storm

Search for housing a journey of false hope for Alberni father and adult son

Volunteers decorate the Alberni Valley Hospice Society on Saturday, Nov. 28. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Alberni Valley Hospice Society lights up for holidays

New event is a fundraiser for society that runs Ty Watson House hospice and other programs

A sign at the entrance to Ty-Histanis asks visitors to stay out of the community during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Andrew Bailey photo)
Nuu-chah-nulth nations on Vancouver Island hit hard by COVID-19

Seven nations dealing with positive tests, hospitalizations and death

Tseshaht Market is located on Highway 4 west of Port Alberni. (GOOGLE MAPS)
Tseshaht First Nation condemns actions of abusive customer

Customer objected to Tseshaht Market’s COVID-19 protection policy

A lightning strike destroyed a radio repeater on Porter Mountain, shutting down the Ministry of Transportation and infrastructure’s highway cam at Sutton Pass. (BC Transportation and Infrastructure photo)
Lightning strike shuts down camera on Tofino-Ucluelet highway

“One of our radio repeater sites was recently struck by lightning.”

A tongue-in-cheek message about wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 on a sign outside a church near Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection count climbs back up to 656

20 more people in hospital, active cases still rising

Dave Wallace coached the Parksville Royals for 23 years. (PQB News file photo)
B.C. baseball community mourns death of legendary Vancouver Island coach Dave Wallace

‘All who knew Dave and his passion for the game will miss him greatly’

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

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
B.C. researchers launch study to test kids, young adults for COVID-19 antibodies

Kids and youth can often be asymptomatic carriers of the novel coronavirus

A sign is seen this past summer outside the Yunesit’in Government office west of Williams Lake reminding visitors and members to stay safe amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Rebecca Dyok photo)
B.C. First Nation leaders await privacy commissioner decision on COVID-19 information

Release of life-saving data cannot wait, says coalition of First Nations

MLA Jennifer Whiteside is B.C.’s new minister of education. She is speaking out against Chilliwack school trustee Barry Neufeld and asking him to resign. (Black Press)
New education minister calls on Chilliwack trustee to resign

Whiteside echoes former minister’s promise to look at options to remove Barry Neufeld

Peter Beckett. ~ File photo
Supreme Court of Canada to decide if it will hear appeal in 2010 wife murder trial

Peter Beckett has stood trial twice for murder in connection with the death of his wife, Laura Letts-Beckett

Most Read