BC health officials won't ease provincial restrictions by specific regions

May 22 2020, 2:52 pm

While the number of active and recorded cases of coronavirus varies across the different health regions in BC, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said she won’t be easing restrictions on a specific, region-by-region basis.

Henry made the comments during a press conference on Thursday after it was noted that there is currently only one active COVID-19 case in the Vancouver Island Health region.

“No, I don’t believe we’re at that point where that will make sense for us,” she said. “We do know that people move, and we do know that with this virus, we are not catching everybody who has it [and] we know it is still in our communities.”

The cases that have tested positive, she said, “are a good indication and we are watching very carefully, but the philosophy that we need to have across the province for the coming period of time is that we don’t give this virus those opportunities to start spreading to large numbers of people.”

She said that while people are now increasing their social connections – within prescribed limits –  those limits “are very specific and we believe they’re needed, based on the evidence that we have about how this virus spreads.”

Henry noted that people have asked “why we’re still restricting gatherings to 50 people, even if you’re in a large space, and part of that is so that we can make our contact tracing more efficient.”

But, she said, “it’s also because if somebody is carrying the virus and inadvertently spreads it, it’s not going to spread to thousands of people, it’s going to spread to smaller numbers and we can control that and we can care for those people effectively.”

Going forward from this point, she said, “that’s what we need to think about: where we can find that balance of stopping the transmission of this virus, but also reducing the unintended negative consequences on everybody else from the restrictive measures that are put in place.”

And that, she said, is “what we’ve been trying to do with our restart program.”

In total, BC has five health regions: Vancouver Coastal Health, Fraser Health, Vancouver Island Health, Interior Health, and Northern Health.