(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

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