This is a COVID-19 news update for March 17, 2020. As of yesterday, there are 103 confirmed cases of COVID 19 in British Columbia. 8 of these are on Vancouver Island. The first was a Victoria. The seven most recent cases were reported yesterday. A Courtenay doctor confirmed that one of her patients is among them. While I have yet to see official confirmation, two sources have independently mentioned a case of COVID -19 in the Campbell River Hospital.
Five British Columbians have fully recovered and 4, all in North Vancouver’s Lynn Valley Care Centre, have died.
How Long Will It Last?
According to the Guardian, a leaked document from Public Health England (PHE) states, “As many as 80% of the population are expected to be infected with Covid-19 in the next 12 months, and up to 15% (7.9 million people) may require hospitalisation.”
A more positive estimate, from a World Health Organization spokesperson, suggests life may return to normal this summer.
The American company that developed a successful treatment for Ebola has isolated hundreds of virus-neutralizing antibodies and is developing a multi-antibody cocktail that it hopes to be manufacturing by the end of summer.
According to the World Health Organization, states that as of yesterday there are 182,000 confirmed cases COVID-19 and there are now more cases outside of China than in that nation.
As of 6:45 PM yesterday, there were 424 confirmed cases in Canada; 74% of these were travellers and another 6% were friends of travellers.
British Columbia has the second highest number of confirmed cases in the nation, there are 177 in Ontario.
Cancelling Elective Surgeries
BC hospitals are cancelling thousands of elective surgeries to free up beds and staff for an expected surge in coronavirus patients in need of acute care. There are currently an estimated 7,000 hospital beds in the province and six COVID-19 patients requiring hospitalization.
BC’s Minister of Health, Adrian Dix, says, “They’re clearly going to see more patients and we have to prepare for that. So initially, once we’ve cancelled these thousands of surgeries, there are going to be, inevitably, empty beds. We think this is a necessary step. We have to prepare. Again, we don’t need it for today, we might not even need it for Friday, but we need to have it in place so that we are ready for that circumstance.”
Gatherings of more than 50 people are now prohibited across the province.
Closures In Campbell River
The list of closures in now includes the entire Vancouver Island Regional Library system and all casinos.
“Public transit buses continue to run at this time, with a reminder for riders to regularly clean hands, sneeze or cough into your elbow and maintain a social distance of two metres (six feet),” said the City of Campbell River in a press release.
City Hall and the Strathcona Regional District Administrative building have both closed their doors to the public.
“We’re determining how we can continue to provide services with some employees working from home, This will slow down some services, and we’ll do our best to keep people informed about changes. In the meantime, we urge everyone to do your part to help slow and limit the spread of the virus. Please, stay home as much as possible during this extraordinarily challenging time,” said city manager Deborah Sargent.
“We are still available and will respond to phone calls and emails as quickly as possible,” adds SRD Chief Administrative Officer David Leitch.
The list of closed facilities in Campbell River includes:
- Enterprise Centre,
- Downtown fire hall,
- Downtown Safety Office,
- Dogwood Operations and Evergreen Water Operations
- and Water Supply Centre.
- Strathcona Gardens Recreation Complex
- The Sportsplex and Community Centre
A number of rural community have also closed their doors.
- Quadra Community Centre
- Mansons Hall and Gorge Hall on Cortes Island
- Sayward Heritage Hall
Cancelled Or Postponed Events
The list of cancelled or postponed special events on Cortes and Quadra now includes:
- Cortes Radio’s 2020 Cabaret,
- The Cortes Fire Department’s Easter Pancake breakfast
- Hollyhock’s upcoming season (from April 14 to May 15);
- Quadra Island’s Safe Community Day
- The Cortes Museum’s AGM is now postponed until May or June
- The Whaletown Community Club’s AGM is postponed.
- Cortes Coffee house is cancelled until next Fall
As of this morning, the Klahoose Community Bus has suspended service.
What You Can Do
The Cortes Health Centre advises people with cold-like symptoms that “unless you are a health care worker, you do not need to be swabbed for Covid-19. Stay home, and drink lots of fluids. If you have shortness of breath or are feeling extremely unwell, call ahead to the clinic, and we will make arrangements to see you.”
Three Cortes Island stores – the Gorge, Cortes Market and Cortes Co-op – are now offering grocery deliveries.
Top photo credit: Health Minister Adrian Dix and Chief Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provide an update on COVID-19 on March 16, 2020 via Flickr (CC BY SA, 2.0 License)