As of April 20, 2020, Canada has a total of 36 823 cases. We have 1699 cases in British Columbia, which is an increase of 52 new cases since Saturday.
In Canada, there are 1686 deaths in total, and 86 of these, occurred in BC. 52 deaths occurred in BC Long Term Care Facilities. (COVID-19 has claimed five more lives over the weekend in LTC facilities in BC.)
Dr. Bonnie Henry has issued a new self-isolation order after seven BC residents who have returned from an Alberta oil sands project tested positive for COVID-19. Anyone who has visited the Kearl Lake Project in northern Alberta since March 15 has to self-isolate for 14 days upon their return to BC.
British Columbia is finally in a position to do widespread testing on anyone with COVID-19 symptoms. The goal is to identify a positive result, in order to isolate that individual, and avoid a community or cluster outbreak. If you test positive for COVID-19, the Public Health team will do contract tracing and track down the people that you might’ve unknowingly infected.
A person has to be symptomatic for at least 24 hours before we can do the test. If we do it too soon, it might show a "false negative." If you have symptoms which include a fever, cough or difficulty breathing, please contact your family doctor as soon as possible. We will then arrange a time to meet you at the hospital to do the nose swab. If you don’t have a family physician, please call 1-855-411-1630.
Regarding the swab collecting process, let’s be honest… there are few things more unpleasant than a swab in your nose, but without a good quality specimen, we can’t trust that the "negative result" is a true negative. Hold still and don’t sneeze!
There was some positive news in Monday’s announcement as well, including that two previously announced outbreaks have been resolved. Dr. Henry said the Delta View long-term care home and the Okanagan Correctional Centre have both been cleared of COVID-19 for the time being.
Over the weekend, Prime Minister Trudeau announced that the US Canada border closure would remain in effect for another 30 days, if not longer, for nonessential travel.
Trudeau says that it’s well known that our epidemics originated with travellers unknowingly importing the virus when returning home. Until we have a way to confirm immunity, travel will likely remain an issue.
Dr. Henry spoke about plans to ease restrictions in BC. She said decisions will be made in two week increments because that is the incubation period of the virus and we will need to monitor the effects of each change in policy. Our plan in BC is for a gradual, slow and thoughtful release of restrictions. One goal is to resume elective surgeries as soon as it is safe to do so while still maintaining hospital capacity to deal with the ongoing pandemic. Our curve in BC is flattening, but in Dr. Henry’s words, "This virus is insidious. It can spread to others when you’re not even realizing that you’re sick yourself. So we can’t let our guard down yet."
Today I was privileged to see tears in a Long Term Care Facility resident’s eyes when she saw her great-granddaughter on FaceTime. It’s been four weeks since the lockdown and for many of the residents, this is the longest they’ve ever been separated from their families. Interior Health has purchased iPads and tablets for the staff to connect residents to their families.
On Friday, the BC Care Providers Association (BCCPA) launched a program called #TellThemYouCare. We invite the public to send a message, including handwritten notes, video links, drawings and other expressions of love and support to our seniors.
To all my fellow homeschool parents: even though it’s Earth Day on Wednesday, can you imagine the impact if every child in Creston sends an encouraging message to a senior in Creston? Physical distancing measures and the absence of visits from friends and family have left many older adults feeling anxious and forgotten. In essence, I know that a message from you will boost their spirits!
Seniors, particularly those living alone, are more vulnerable to social isolation and loneliness. A widely-cited study has shown that prolonged isolation can significantly shorten a person’s life, and is the physical equivalent of smoking 15 cigarettes per day. Mail your pictures to Swan Valley Lodge, Crestview, to your neighbour or submit via the bccare.ca/tellthemyoucare website to be shared with a senior. (https://bccare.ca/tellthemyoucare)
Dr Nerine Kleinhans on behalf of the Creston Valley Physicians and Medical Staff