Yesterday, Dr. Bonney Henry issued a new set of public health orders increasing the restrictions on travel, gatherings, and making masks mandatory in indoor public spaces. So far, we have not had COVID outbreaks on the island and we need to keep it that way.
As our Island medical health officer, Dr. Richard Stanwick has said “Until recently, the number of positive cases throughout Island Health remained relatively low. This was not by luck. It was the result of hard work by people in communities across our region who took their responsibility to prevent the spread of this virus very seriously, supported by Island Health’s staff working to control COVID-19. To everyone who has taken their responsibilities seriously to protect themselves, their loved ones, and our health-care system, we thank you.”
What we have to do is not complicated … but it IS hard! We all have to follow not only the letter, but also the spirit of the public health orders and focus on the basics: avoid contact with others when possible; don’t get together in groups; wear a mask to avoid spread when exposed to others; wash our hands. Masks are mandatory in the hospital and doctors’ offices.
We remain relatively isolated by nature of our island location. Now is not the time to travel and to have visitors travelling to Saltspring. This is a hardship for many but is an essential component to keeping our COVID numbers low and manageable.
The irony, of course, is that if we all follow these orders and guidelines, we hope that nothing will happen and that we will stay free from COVID outbreaks. The public health orders embody the adage that ‘an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure’!
We are collectively heartened by the announcement of successful trials of COVID vaccines. The recent influenza immunization clinic brought together health care providers and community organizations and volunteers to successfully immunize close to 1500 people, representing over 10% of the island population. This was an excellent test of our ability to provide a COVID vaccine when it becomes available. Until then, we need to maintain our focus on preventing COVID outbreaks in our community.