BC Green Party Leader Sonia Furstenau is criticizing the provincial government’s COVID-19 response and calling for tougher measures to curb virus spread.
“Neither the methods nor the messaging are working,” she said. “We need a coordinated response and action from government that shows they are taking the immediate and long-term threat of COVID-19 seriously.”
Furstenau said her party is calling on the province to adopt the following measures:
- Create a clear and targeted shutdown strategy for a three-week period that includes:
- Enforcing non-essential travel measures.
- Moving school online for most students.
- Providing immediate government support to temporarily close non-essential businesses.
- Increase transparency and revamp public communications by:
- Resuming daily COVID-19 briefings.
- Publishing case numbers on weekends and holidays.
- Extending media availability.
- Adopting new messaging outside of press conferences to target non-compliers.
- Increase testing and vaccination capacity by:
- Expanding asymptomatic testing and rapid testing in workplaces, schools, businesses, and neighbourhoods.
- Improving reporting on variants of concern.
- Increasing staffing at vaccination clinics and extending hours to administer all doses as soon as they arrive in province.
“Earlier this spring, I said it felt like government was not rising to the fight in light of rising case numbers. Now it is feeling like they are forfeiting the fight altogether,” she said. “We were not dealt a bad hand – we loosened restrictions… allowed out-of-province travel, stalled in-school mask mandates, and did not enforce orders or tailor messaging to hit those who have not been following orders.”
Now, she said, “we need to step up and fight for the health of our province. Instead of bracing for the impact of rising variants, we can mitigate it right now.”
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Furstenau’s comments come a day after health officials announced 997 new test-positive COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, bringing the total number of recorded cases in the province to 106,985.
In a joint written statement, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix said that broken down by health region, this equates to 356 new cases of COVID-19 in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, 465 new cases in the Fraser Health region, 67 in the Island Health region, 91 in the Interior Health region, and 18 in the Northern Health region.
There are 8,728 active cases of COVID-19 in the province, with 14,602 people under public health monitoring as a result of identified exposure to known cases.
Of the active cases, 330 individuals are currently hospitalized with COVID-19, 105 of whom are in intensive care. The remaining people are recovering at home in self-isolation.
There have been two new COVID-19-related deaths, for a total of 1,491 deaths in British Columbia.
There are currently 3,766 confirmed COVID-19 cases that are variants of concern in the province. Additional whole genome sequencing has not been completed since the last report. Of the total cases, 266 are active and the remaining people have recovered. This includes 2,837 cases of the B.1.1.7 (UK) variant, 51 cases of the B.1.351 (South Africa) variant and 878 cases of the P.1 (Brazil) variant.
To date, 946,096 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca-SII COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in BC, 87,504 of which are second doses.
A total of 96,626 people who tested positive for the virus have now recovered.