COVID-19: First U.K. Variant Case in B.C. Lands in Island Health Region

Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s provincial health officer (PHO), and Adrian Dix, Minister of Health, have issued the following joint statement announcing the first confirmed case of a person in British Columbia infected with the COVID-19 variant first identified in the United Kingdom: “B.C. has identified the first case of a person in B.C. infected with the COVID-19 U.K. variant. The individual, who resides in the Island Health region, returned to B.C. from the U.K. on flight AC855 on Dec. 15, 2020, developed symptoms while in quarantine and was immediately tested. Testing confirmed the positive diagnosis on Dec. 19, 2020; a small number of close contacts have been isolated and public health is following up with them daily. “The variant strain was detected by the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) Public Health Laboratory in its review of all isolates from people who had recently returned from travel to the U.K. Whole genome sequencing at the BCCDC identified this as the same…
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COVID-19: Island Health Administers First COVID-19 Vaccine

Island Health administered the first COVID-19 immunizations to health care workers in the Greater Victoria area today. Island Health received 1,950 doses in its initial shipment and immunization clinics will continue throughout the week. Immunization clinics for staff and physicians will expand across Island Health in the coming weeks, as they receive more doses. “In my 25-year career as a Medical Health Officer on the island, I have been privileged to be part of many significant firsts that improve the health of the population,” said Dr. Richard Stanwick, Island Health’s Chief Medical Health Officer. “The launch of our immunization program against COVID-19 this morning will be the most memorable.” The vaccine is an important step in our journey to protect people from the COVID-19 virus, and today is a significant step taken on the island to protect health care workers who work on the frontlines of COVID-19. Dena Scriven, a nursing assistant in long-term care, was t…
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COVID-19: Lady Minto Hospital Medical Staff Association - Stay Local, Stay Safe

The upcoming holiday season is traditionally a time to gather with family and friends. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukah, other faith based holidays and traditions, or simply enjoy the festivities of the season, we look forward to parties and family dinners and get-togethers. The arrival of a vaccine against COVID-19 is a reason to celebrate as it heralds the beginning of (we hope) the end of the pandemic. However, we can’t allow ourselves to relax our focus on preventing the further spread of COVID. We need to continue to limit our gatherings to our immediate household, forego travel to visit friends, family and relatives, maintain our distance from others and wear a mask in public spaces. These measures are going to continue to be crucial to containing the virus while the immunization campaign moves forward. The Lady Minto Hospital will remain open through the holiday season for Emergency, for lab and medical imaging (X-ray) services, as well as for admissions to…
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COVID-19: First Delivery of Vaccinations Arrives in B.C.

The first delivery of approximately 4,000 doses of the first approved COVID-19 vaccine has arrived in the province. Preparation is underway to immunize the first British Columbians in the coming days. These initial vaccine doses will be administered to Lower Mainland health-care workers who work in long-term care homes and front-line health-care workers essential to the COVID-19 response. Fraser Health and Vancouver Coastal Health are contacting staff to schedule the initial vaccine appointments. Starting the week of Dec. 21, vaccines will be delivered weekly to all health authorities. Expected timelines will depend on vaccine approval and availability. As vaccines become more available, they will be provided to other priority groups throughout British Columbia. A registration and record system are in development, including a process to register for vaccine access and receive a formal record of immunization. Photos of the first batch of COVID-19 vaccine from Pfiz…
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COVID-19: Lady Minto Hospital Medical Staff Association - This Year Must Be Different

As COVID-19 rates have been surging across BC including in Island Health, we have been so grateful to see our community members adopting the recommendations of the Provincial Health Officer (PHO) and other Public Health officials to keep us all safe. Practicing hand hygiene, wearing masks, practicing physical distancing and shrinking our “social bubbles” are all essential actions in controlling the spread of COVID-19 and protecting us all. Thank you! Doing this is not easy at times, and certainly the upcoming winter holidays will be one of the times when the restrictions necessary to control the virus will feel particularly painful. The PHO has been very clear and has issued province-wide restrictions because of the compelling need to control transmission of COVID-19: there are to be no gatherings of any size at your residence with anyone other than your current household and no travel other than travel which is essential for work or health reasons. We love to connect at …
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New Air Ambulance Now in Service for Salt Spring and the Gulf Islands

BC Emergency Health Services (BCEHS) new helicopter and plane, both based in Nanaimo, have just begun responding to patients up and down the island, as well as for patients on Salt Spring Island, the Gulf Islands and Sunshine Coast. BCEHS air ambulances respond to critical hospital transfer patients as well as emergency 9-1-1 medical calls. About 90 per cent of air ambulance responses are interfacility transfers, from hospital to hospital. BCEHS has traditionally called in air ambulance response from Vancouver, or to contractors on the Island to assist when a patient requires an air ambulance transport to hospital, now that emergency air response begins mid-island. This dedicated helicopter and plane allow BCEHS to quickly transport patients in rural and remote communities to places with higher levels of care. The BCEHS air ambulance program is made up of a dedicated fleet of 16 air ambulances: six helicopters and 10 planes. Helicopters are based in: Vancouver, Nanaimo, K…
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COVID-19: Community Member at Salt Spring Centre School Tests Positive - School Closed

Salt Spring Centre School on Salt Spring Island was closed early today for the holiday break after a confirmed COVID-19 case in the school community. In a letter given to the school by Dee Hoyano, MD, FRCPC, Medical Health Officer with Island Health, the school administrators were informed of the case. The dates of potential exposure in the school community occurred December 3, 2020. The community member is isolating and are being followed by Island Health. The notice does not identify the community member, however school administrator Shauna Klem came forward on social media with the following statement early this evening: "Okay, I am saying it here because I would rather people heard it from me than spread misinformation. Today, I received a positive COVID test result.The kids and I are quarantining. Please wear your mask." ~ Shauna Klem, Salt Spring Centre School She went on to add in a separate note with the Exchange that she "...hoped more people will choose to…
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COVID-19: GISS Community Member Tests Positive - Contact Tracing Completed

In a letter posted for families with students at Gulf Islands Secondary School (GISS) late this afternoon, school administrators have confirmed that Island Health contact tracing and communication in regard to the confirmed case of COVID-19 reported yesterday of a GISS community member has been completed. "We are pleased to share that Island Health actions (contact tracing and communication) in response to the confirmed case of COVID-19 have been completed. Island Health has identified and notified all close-contacts and has provided them with specific guidance regarding a self-isolation period." "We wanted to share with everyone a common misconception in regard to viral transmission; that it is tied to a place, rather than to an individual. This exposure is not connected to the school itself, as our building and classrooms are regularly cleaned and disinfected. Our school continues to implement the strict protocols and procedures set by the Provincial Health Officer, Wor…
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COVID-19: GISS Community Member Tests Positive - Contact Tracing in Progress

Medical Health Officer Dee Hoyano from the Office of the North Island Medical Health Officer with Island Health, has issued a notice to the parents, guardians, families and staff of Gulf Islands Secondary School (GISS) on Salt Spring Island that a member of the school community has tested positive for COVID-19. The notice indicates that the date of the potential exposure for others at the school as November 26th, 2020. Island Health is completing contact tracing to identify any staff and students that need to self-isolate or self-monitor for symptoms. Note: The first version of this story incorrectly identified the confirmed case was a student, but that has not been confirmed. The confirmed case in this notice was identified simply as a 'member' of the school community.
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Greenwoods Eldercare Society Receives $16,100

The 100+ Women Who Care Salt Spring Island held its sixth meeting on November 18th on Zoom. Members voted to give the collected donations of the meeting—which totalled about $16,100—to Greenwoods Eldercare Society. Also drawn from the charity basket during that meeting were the nominated charities were Gulf Islands Families Together Society (GIFTS) and the Salt Spring Island Branch of the BC SPCA. Three members gave informative and inspiring presentations over Zoom about why their nominated charity should receive the collected donations. Dorrie Ferster, who presented the winning pitch for Greenwoods, said, “It was a new experience to join the 100+ Women Who Care on a virtual call format. I must admit, I missed the energy of everyone’s presence.” Members cast a secret online vote for one of the three, and for the first time ever, there was a tie vote. Members were asked to cast their votes again, this time for the two tied charities. Greenwoods was the winning charity. …
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Last Chance to Save Mt. Erskine - Manzanita Ridge Connector Trail

We have a very short window of opportunity to save a well-loved trail on Salt Spring, and if we don’t act, now, it will soon be forever split in two. Walkers, hikers, runners, adults and kids all love Mount Erskine’s trails with their stunning views of beautiful forest. Accessible from Toynbee Road, Collins Road, and Trustees Trail, they all interconnect on public land. Or so we thought! We now know that the short connector between the Conservancy’s Manzanita Ridge Nature Reserve and Mt. Erskine Provincial Park is on private land, and there is no alternative for a safe trail. This land is part of a strata that will soon be developed. It’s quite possible that a future owner will build a house right on the existing trail, which most people now believe is public land. The Salt Spring Island Conservancy acquired Manzanita Ridge Nature Reserve from Martin Williams in 2003, and two years later it fundraised to buy the centrepiece of Mt. Erskine Provincial Park in partne…
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COVID-19: New Health Orders, Not Complicated... But It Is Hard

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 …
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COVID-19: Lady Minto Hospital Medical Staff Association - Maintain Vigilance

Across BC we are seeing an increase in COVID activity. Although Vancouver Island has continued to maintain relatively low numbers of cases, we cannot rely on our physical separation from the rest of the province to maintain our current status. It is crucial that we maintain vigilance with our individual and collective actions. Maintain our bubbles of immediate family and our “safe six” of family and friends Maintain physical distancing when in public or with people not in our bubble Wear a mask to reduce droplet spread and limit the potential to spread viral particles from infected individuals, including those who do not have symptoms, or to inhale viral particles from others Wash our hands frequently COVID has been devastating to residents of long term care facilities where there have been outbreaks. We have been able to avoid any community or facility outbreaks on Salt Spring so far and we need to continue to do so. “There is good work being done by the Va…
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Watch: Bicycle Life - How The Electric Bicycle Is Transforming Island Lives

What if we chose the electric bicycle as our primary way of getting around? Instantly lowering our costs of living, reducing our carbon, increasing our health, supporting the autonomy of young and old, reviving a vibrant local economy, on streets designed for everyone? Swapping our car for the ebike took some courage, but with safe, connected trails like the Salish Sea trail network, it would be an easy choice for many. This little film imagines the possibilities. https://youtu.be/_GGx9cnP624
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Salt Spring Island Conservancy Celebrates 25 Years of Conservation and Education

In 1994, a group of seven women* came together to form the Salt Spring Island Conservancy in order to realize their vision to conserve and care for the unique ecosystems and species-at-risk of this beautiful Salish Sea island. A year later, the conservancy received charitable status and the ability to hold conservation covenants. No time was wasted in taking full advantage of the community momentum to protect significant areas. Early wins included working with the Capital Regional District and the provincial government to purchase lands for Mill Farm Regional Park and helping in the campaign to purchase lands from the Texada Land Corporation in order to halt logging and create Burgoyne Provincial Park (late 1990s). The first conservation covenant (33.6 acres) held by the Conservancy was signed in 1998. In 2001, the Conservancy acquired a major conservation covenant of 263 acres for the Maxwell Lake watershed. Over the next couple of decades, the Conservancy acquired land f…
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Salt Spring Island Natural Cemetery Opens on Salt Spring Island

Salt Spring Island is known in many parts of the world as a unique and progressive community. Its reputation for local farming, food, arts, music, culture, politics, EV transportation, and environmentalism belies its small size. And now once again, Salt Spring Island is at the fore of a growing movement. This time in the world of green, natural burials. (Watch the video tour and see the photo tour below.) Over the last 50 years there has been an incredible transformation in burial practices in North America. Burial and cemetery services, which were at one time a more modest affair and often carried out by locally owned services providers, has been transformed under capital market consolidation. While Indigenous cultures the world over have always practiced 'natural' burial, the dominant colonial culture of the West saw local funeral and burial business services transformed into highly specialized, profit driven industries controlled by a small handful of publicly traded c…
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COVID-19: Lady Minto Hospital Medical Staff Association - Flu Season Clinics

We are rapidly approaching the start of influenza season. Meanwhile, we remains in the throes of the COVID-19 pandemic with increasing numbers of cases across the province. We, on the island, have been able to avoid any outbreaks of COVID-19 so far with low numbers of COVID-19 infections. The measures we have employed – limiting our contacts to those within our bubble, maintaining physical distance from others, wearing a mask when we are unable to maintain distance or are in public spaces, and washing our hands – should also help to limit the spread of ‘flu this year. The annual influenza vaccine is now available for immunization. ‘Flu vaccination remains an important means to protect individuals from illness and prevent community spread with the potential for a ‘twindemic’. The family doctors of Salt Spring will be working with Public Health and other community partners to provide ‘flu vaccinations at a community ‘flu clinic this year. Individual physician offices hav…
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COVID-19: Lady Minto Hospital Medical Staff Association - Thanksgiving Weekend

As we anticipate the Thanksgiving long weekend, a time when we normally get together with family, it is a good time to reflect on what we, as Islanders, have to the thankful for. We have had a low rate of COVID-19 infections since the outbreak of the pandemic and we have not had a community outbreak on Salt Spring. In particular, our seniors living in residential care have not been exposed to outbreaks. We have had strong leadership from our public health team, including our provincial health office, Dr. Henry and our Minister of Health with clear and unambiguous guidance on how to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe. As the long weekend approaches, it is important to continue to follow the public health orders and guidelines; Maintain our bubbles of a small number of close family and friends Limit our gatherings, including restricting our Thanksgiving gatherings to those already in our bubble Maintain physical distancing when in public or with people not in ou…
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100 Men Share Fundraising Proceeds with Laundromat and Search and Rescue

100 Men Who Care Salt Spring Island conducted its first e-gathering between Monday October 4th and Thursday, October 8th by email and Zoom with members voting between two Salt Spring not-for-profit organizations who were nominated by members of 100 Men: Salt Spring Island Laundromat and Soap Exchange Under the auspices of Wagon Wheel, a group has been working long and hard to bring a Laundromat back to Saltspring -an community health necessity that has been missing for over 5 years. This is a non-profit social enterprise which now has a storefront location downtown, and new washers and dryers on-island ready to install. To date the Salt Spring community has been very generous in a lengthy funding campaign. But $50,000 is required to cover the store renovation, machine installation and start up costs. The renovations have begun. The goal is to open before the new year. Once in operation, the store will offer both domestic and commercial laundry services, organic soap a…
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New Deer Disease Suspected in Gulf Islands

Adenovirus Hemorrhagic Disease (AHD) is suspected as the cause of death of over 60 deer on at least two Gulf Islands. However, further testing is needed to confirm a definitive diagnosis. While there is no known human health risk from the virus, and there is no evidence that it can be transmitted to humans, hunters in the area are being advised not to consume meat from animals found dead, obviously ill or acting abnormally prior to death. As well, research indicates that it is not transmissible to livestock and pets. A network of wildlife professionals has assisted provincial wildlife health staff to investigate the possible emergence of AHD since deer were discovered dead on Galiano Island in September. Samples from these animals were sent to Canadian and United States laboratories to confirm the cause of the disease. Since its initial discovery in California, AHD cases are recorded in the western United States annually with outbreaks in some locations. With improved …
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Local Advocates Rally for Safe Cycling and Salish Sea Trail Completion

Over 70 local bike riders and cycling advocates gathered today for a social bike ride from Portlock Park to the United Church Meadow in Ganges in a show of support for safe cycling and to challenge local governments to support investments in local cycling infrastructure. Organized by Salt Spring Solutions as part of the GoByBike Week events being hosted around the province, the gathering was also an opportunity to rally support for investments in the completion of the Salish Sea Trail across Salt Spring Island. Local advocates are working to motivate Salt Spring's unusual, and for the purposes of these kinds of initiatives, not particular well structured government organizations, to take charge of implementing the long-held vision of improving Fulford-Ganges Road from the Fulford Ferry through to the Vesuvius Ferry to not only improve conditions for drivers, but to extend the width of the road shoulders to offer safe spaces for bikes to transit onto and across the island as …
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