Today marks the fifteenth COVID update on Facebook, and we have come so far in only two weeks. From a place of complete panic to seeing some evidence that our efforts to maintain social distancing is paying off.
As of 1:30 p.m. on April 6, 2020, there were 1,266 identified cases in BC, which is an increase of 63 cases since Saturday. No new cases in the Interior (Currently, Interior Health has 128 cases).
“Of the total COVID-19 cases, 140 individuals are currently hospitalized, 72 of those are in intensive care. The remaining people with COVID-19 are recovering at home in self-isolation.
Dr. Bonnie Henry says it is encouraging to see the overall rate of new cases in the last few days levelling out.
The graph shows the cases in BC, and the impact of social isolation and physical distancing. It is working.
“Let’s continue to make a 100% commitment to breaking the chain of transmission.”
On to the hot topic of the use of masks… the CDC and also our Public Health Chief, Dr. Teresa Tam, is recommending the use of homemade masks by the public. The data hasn’t changed in terms of efficiency of the masks, but due to the shortage of medical masks in our facilities, they are acknowledging that there is a place for masks to be used by the public. The CDC recommends that cloth face coverings in public can be considered in settings where other social distancing measures are challenging to maintain. (e.g. busy grocery stores, pharmacies, public transport), especially in areas of significant community-based transmission. In Creston, we have much less of a problem with crowds than what they have in the big cities.
By wearing masks, people who may have the virus and do not know it, are prevented from transmitting it to others. It does little to protect you from getting the virus from others.
The homemade cloth masks recommended are not surgical masks or N-95 respirators. Those are critical supplies that must continue to be reserved for healthcare workers and other medical first responders. We will know more about the requirements for homemade masks in the days to come.
The best defence against COVID-19 is still for people to stay home as much as possible, wash their hands frequently with soap and keep a two-metre distance from other people when you need to go out for essentials like food or medication.
Please remember the following: Your cloth mask has to be washed after one use and don’t touch your face to readjust your mask.
No one knows how long we’ll be asked to maintain physical distancing. Many of us are hoping for some degree of normalcy by summer, but does temperature (climate) affect COVID-19 spread?
It is encouraging to know that COVID19 transmissions have occurred predominantly within a temperature range of 3-17 C, suggesting COVID transmission may be less efficient in a warm, humid climate. Overall, infections by other coronaviruses have been shown to occur primarily in winter. While it may be reasonable to expect a decline in contagiousness of COVID19 in warmer weather, the degree to which weather will impact transmission is not known and will need further monitoring.
How long will social isolation take to come down? Using data from China, it seems to take about twice as long to come down from the peak, as it did to go up. This means that if it takes 30 days to peak, it could take another 60 days to come down. It depends on how bumpy the ride is on the way down. Thankfully, Canada can learn from China - how rapidly do we ease up on social distancing, how well do we quarantine new contacts and do contact tracing (hopefully, at some point, we can test al symptomatic patients, and have them self isolate), and control travellers who bring the virus into our country.
"Our species is capable of doing amazing things. We can put people on the moon. People live in space for a year … We can beat this; I am convinced."
- Retired astronaut Scott Kelly
After spending a year in space, Scott Kelly is an expert on managing extreme isolation.
In Creston, we are almost pro’s at this, but here’s a reminder:
1. Establish a routine
2. Switch off the news. It’s OK not to know exactly what’s going on in the world right now.
3. Stay connected with phone or video calls. When out an about, maintain physical distancing of 2 meters. You can still safely visit with your neighbour, if you use your common sense.
4. Make some realistic goals: Preferably daily, weekly and monthly. In the beginning, it’s easy to be motivated and make grand plans on what you’re going to do. Challenge is to keep that going - remember, this is a marathon, not a sprint!
Today marked the lowest number of increase in positive cases in BC in the past several weeks. However, this week also recorded the highest number of deaths. There is reason to believe that we are holding the line and slowing the spread. We need to keep on with the steps we have taken. Every day we bend the curve is help to control the spread and having enough medical resources to take care of you when you need them.
Dr Nerine Kleinhans on behalf of the Creston Valley Physicians and Medical staff.