More than 125,000 people have been infected with COVID-19, and 4,613 have died, since the virus was first identified last November. While the first reports are from abroad, on January 27 a Vancouver man returning from a business trip to China tested positive. As of yesterday, March 12, there were 53 confirmed cases in British Columbia. One of these is on Vancouver Island, where a man in his 60s is currently quarantined in his home. He and two other confirmed victims, from the Fraser Health Region, just returned from a tour in Egypt. With these reports moving closer, the Discovery Islands area is preparing for COVID-19
Comparative Numbers: Flu vs COVID-19
The numbers seem trivial when compared to 3 to 5 million severe cases of flu, and 290 000 to 650 000 associated respiratory fatalities, every year.
According to Medical News Today, “Cold- or flu-like symptoms usually set in from 2–4 days after a coronavirus infection and are typically mild. However, symptoms vary from person-to-person, and some forms of the virus can be fatal.”
While its global impact is much smaller, COVID-19 is also deadlier. Around 2% of the people who catch it die and the percentage is higher among pregnant women, children and people over 65. The fatality rate among flu victims is only about 0.1%.
BC Health Warnings
“We are recommending against all non-essential travel outside of Canada, including to the United States. Effective today, anyone who chooses to travel outside of Canada will be asked to stay away from work or school for 14 days upon their return. We know that this is a voluntary measure, but it is our expectation that people will follow this direction as part of their civic duty,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health, and Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s provincial health officer, in their March 12 press release.
The BC Government directed all event organizers to cancel any gathering larger than 250 people.
Cortes Island Events
While attendance at Cortes Island events is much smaller than this, the community is being proactive.
“Is this absolutely necessary? Probably not. Is it the responsible thing to do? Probably. We will be keeping our eyes on the situation and will reschedule as soon as we feel we can,” wrote Rose, when she cancelled the Whaletown Community Club’s AGM.
- Friday Market is cancelled after March 13th
- Toki Bap Café is closed (after March 13th)
- Kitchen rentals are cancelled (after March 13th)
- All activities in Mansons Hall are cancelled
- Parents and Tots group is cancelled
- The Playschool will follow the same responses as the public schools
- Cortes Radio’s 2020 Adult Cabaret is cancelled
Two Friday, March 13th, events at Linnaea Farm, Queer Film Night and the Folk First Aid course, have both been cancelled. Manda Aufochs Gillespie has tentatively scheduled the next Folk U “Future Friday” for April 17, 2020.
Teen Szene (TSZ), for youth ages 13 – 17 yrs old, was going to continue, providing attendees must bring a waiver signed by their parent/guardian, but their last event in March was the First Aid course cancelled above.
Cortes Island’s March 28 Coffee House is cancelled. “Thank you musicians and poets for your brilliant, creative contributions this year .. See you at Love Fest, August 8, and next fall for more coffee houses. Stay safe and healthy. ” – Rex.
Quadra Island Events
While some events have been cancelled, the Quadra Island Community Centre is still open.
“Right now there is no mandated closure procedures from Canada Health, on whether events do need to be cancelled. All of the events that happen here are organized by different volunteer groups. They do their own decisions around postings and cancellations,” said Executive Director Rebecca Young.
Campbell River Events
Rogers Sports & Media cancelled the Rogers Hometown Hockey Tour stop in Campbell River originally scheduled for March 21 and 22. This prompted the city to cancel related events such as pop-up hockey, the Friday afternoon events at Spirits Square and the free swim and skate at Strathcona Gardens
“We know a lot of people were looking forward to this event and will be disappointed about the cancellation, but public health is the most important factor in a situation like this,” says deputy city manager Ron Neufeld. “The City has been monitoring the situation closely and taken steps to do our part locally to help limit the spread of the virus. Given how popular this event would have been, and the potential for concern around large gatherings, we understand that, unfortunately, it’s necessary to cancel.
Strathcona Regional District (SRD) issued a news release stating, “Strathcona Gardens will continue to be open to the public limiting the total capacity of 250 people in the facility at any given time and at this time, the hot tub, sauna and steam rooms are closed due to higher temperatures and potential spread in these locations.”
Strathcona Regional District
The discussion at the March 11, 2020, SRD Board meeting was about preparedness. If the need should arise, do they possess the technology to hold board meetings via skype? Staff is to look into this.
The SRD encourages the public to follow the recommendations of health authorities to protect themselves and others.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water and avoid touching your face
- Maintain social distance (consider stopping handshaking and hugging)
- Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing,
- Avoid others who are unwell,
- Stay home if you feel sick
- Self-isolate and contact the B.C. Nurse Line at 8-1-1 if you are concerned you might have been exposed to or contracted the coronavirus.
Top photo credit: Testing for the COVID-19 virus – courtesy Gov Tom Wolf (CC BY SA, 2.0 License)