As the number of coronavirus cases in BC continues to climb in all of the province’s health regions, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry offered some insight this week as to the reasoning behind why the province does not reveal the exact locations and communities the cases have been discovered in.
Addressing the question during a press conference, Henry refuted the claim that this practice is related to what some have perceived as a non-disclosure policy.
“This is not a non-disclosure policy, this is how we do business in terms of public health,” she said. “When there is a risk to the public, in that we cannot identify individuals who might be exposed to somebody with a disease, we put that [information] out publicly.”
She added there has been “quite a bit of that recently, where people have been in certain premises or a public space where there might be other people at risk and we can’t identify them individually; we put that [information] out in the public domain. That’s how we have always done this.”
Henry said she believes the challenge right now “is that these things have evolved over time.”
Initially, she furthered, “we had very small numbers of people who were coming in from other countries and it became important to ensure that they were not individually identifiable, because with this disease, as with many communicable diseases, there is still very much a stigma associated with it. This is a practice we are all using cross the country, and it’s consistent in how we are applying the approach.”
She repeated that this is “not a non-disclosure policy in any way,” but rather “it’s about how we’re best able to support people.”
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As things continue to transition she said, “we now have community spread and we don’t have the ability to know everybody in our environment who has this disease.”
As such, “the measures that we have been directing people to take across the province…is because we all need to put space between us to stop the transmission of this virus from those unknown cases and that is in every community.”
At the end of the day, “this is not something that is about protecting people’s privacy –although that’s obviously an important consideration – it’s about risk to the public and understanding where that risk is, and the measures that we all need to take right now in our communities across the province.”
On Wednesday, Henry, along with BC Health Minister Adrian Dix one announced one additional death in the province linked to COVID-19.
Broken down by health region, Henry said there are 497 known cases in Vancouver Coastal Health, 367 in Fraser Health, 72 on Vancouver Island, 114 in Interior Health, and 16 in Northern Health.
Of the total cases, 142 are hospitalized and 67 are in critical care.
With the death announced on Wednesday, a total of 25 people in BC have now died from coronavirus.