As BC announced its multi-phased approach to reopen the province this week, health officials also spoke about the possibility of what could potentially trigger another similar-in-nature provincial shutdown.
And according to Provincial Health Officer Dr, Bonnie Henry, it’s “something that we’ve been concerned about and thinking about since the very beginning.”
And it’s for this reason, she said, that BC has taken a “thoughtful, careful, approach to what the path to reopening the province looks like.
“I believe that this plan and the way we’ve put it together, gives us the tools so that we can increase our contacts, our numbers, and our safe contacts in a way that keeps us on a steady state for at least the coming months,” said Henry during a press conference this week. “We do not want to be starting and stopping and starting and stopping.”
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That said, Henry noted that at this point, officials don’t know what’s going to happen in the fall.
“We don’t know whether there’s going to be a resurgence once influenza and other respiratory viruses come back, so that’s why it’s so important – and in part of our plan – to make sure that we continue to have the vigilance in the public health system, the testing that we need, and the contact tracing.
She added that “we’re learning as we can, so that we can be prepared for what may come.”
Each day, said Henry, “COVID-19 brings new challenges, but also new learnings, and we will adjust in the coming weeks and months, as we learn.”
Moving forward, Henry said officials “will be monitoring things very carefully, but the plan and the thoughtfulness and the purpose that we have is to make sure that we can get through at least until the fall.”
In what has been dubbed “BC Restart Plan,” the province said it will work closely with public health officials, businesses and labour organizations to lift restrictions in phases, gradually allowing for more social and economic activity, while closely monitoring health information to minimize the risk to the public.
A plan for the new normal “must remain nimble enough to allow us to fine-tune our interventions quickly enough to stay ahead of the outbreak,” the provincial plan states. “This can include an acceptable steady state of approximately 60% of the old normal social interaction.”
Overall, the goal is “to maintain a steady go-forward state and if needed a series of moderate ‘lift and suppress’ cycles, where restrictions are relaxed and then reapplied in ways that can keep the pandemic under control at an acceptable economic and social cost.”