Cases of COVID-19 continue to climb across Vancouver Island, with travel to blame for a significant number of those cases.
Island Health chief medical health officer Dr. Richard Stanwick said his staff has analyzed confirmed Island cases between September and November and found that 86 of the 133 cases were from Islanders who had travelled. At least 20 of those were people who travelled to the Lower Mainland specifically. Those 20 passed COVID-19 to 11 people on the Island, who in turn gave the virus to another four people.
It’s one of the ways the numbers creep up, Stanwick added. On Nov. 18, 556 people on Vancouver Island were self-isolating after being in contact with a person with COVID-19.
“We’re not being as careful as we were earlier on when we were enjoying periods where we had no cases or just a handful of cases,” he said. “When we had a case, we usually had about two individuals who were immediate high-risk contacts. That number has doubled to four.”
Public health advice to again stop non-essential travel to and around B.C. is the latest blow to a tourism industry struggling to keep going with domestic business and strict precautions to protect customers and staff from COVID-19.
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry renewed that advice this week as B.C. recorded its fourth straight day with more than 600 new cases of coronavirus diagnosed across the province. The latest wave of cases means B.C. residents have to go back to their initial precautions from the early days of the pandemic this spring, Henry says. The Tourism Industry Association of B.C., representing the hardest-hit sector of the economy, was quick to respond.
“While we recognize the province’s request to curtail non-essential travel, we’re concerned that tourism operators will again bear the brunt of the impact,” TIABC board chair Vivek Sharma said in a bulletin to members. “It’s important to note that travel is not the culprit for increasing transmission rates, but rather people’s behaviour. That’s where we need to step up our efforts.”
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