New COVID-19 cases on Vancouver Island by local health area for the week of May 23-30. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control image)

New COVID-19 cases on Vancouver Island by local health area for the week of May 23-30. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control image)

Case counts encouraging, but Island ‘still vulnerable,’ says health authority

New COVID-19 cases decrease again in almost all areas of Vancouver Island

Vancouver Island further flattened the COVID-19 curve last week.

New cases on the Island dropped by 22 from the week before, according to the latest available data from the B.C. Centre for Disease Control.

For the week of May 23-29, only two local health areas saw new case counts go up, while six areas saw cases go down.

Notably, the Comox Valley dipped from 15 new cases the week before to seven new cases, and Sooke and Western Communities dropped from 20 new cases the week before to 12. Greater Victoria increased from 13 new cases to 20. Greater Nanaimo saw the most new cases on the Island again last week with 22, but that was down from 26 the week before.

Island Health’s chief medical health officer, Dr. Richard Stanwick, was asked about the Island’s encouraging case numbers at a press conference last week and suggested there were a few contributing factors.

He said Vancouver Island has has “amazing success” with limiting the number of COVID-19 deaths at long-term care facilities to three. He said Island Health has “one of the best licensing programs in the province,” investigating more complaints and placing more conditions on facilities.

Controlling COVID-19 at long-term care homes, Stanwick said, allowed Island Health more flexibility and environmental health officers were able to work with Island businesses that remained open during the pandemic.

The doctor also gave kudos to the people of Vancouver Island.

“Not only did we follow restrictions, but just looking at the enthusiasm for controlling this virus and immunization, I think it was a collective effort that brought us to this point,” Stanwick said.

Even though COVID-19 cases are comparatively rare in the health authority, it doesn’t mean the Island will get to open up any earlier than the rest of the province, as Stanwick said provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry favours a “single health system approach.”

“We’re still vulnerable…” Stanwick said. “She feels that [eased restrictions] are not sufficiently robust that one health authority could implement them without possibly putting themselves at an increased risk given what’s happening in the rest of the province.”

READ ALSO: Vancouver Island hits half a million first doses of vaccine

The BCCDC reported just two new COVID-19 cases on Vancouver Island on Tuesday, June 1, after reporting zero new cases on the Island on May 31. There is one COVID-19 patient in critical care on the Island and another six hospitalized.

Earlier this week, the BCCDC released updated vaccination rates as of May 31. The most-vaccinated communities on Vancouver Island, by percentage of adults with at least one dose, were Pender/Galiano/Saturna/Mayne islands, at 88 per cent; Sidney at 85 per cent; North Saanich and the Saanich Peninsula local health area, both at 82 per cent; and Central Saanich and Oak Bay, both at 81 per cent.

The least-vaccinated communities were Cowichan Valley West at 63 per cent, Juan de Fuca Coast at 64 per cent, Sooke at 66 per cent, Nanaimo at 68 per cent, and the Western Communities local health area and Downtown Victoria/Vic West, both at 69 per cent.

READ ALSO: B.C.’s COVID-19 infections below 200 for second day Wednesday

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editor@nanaimobulletin.com

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