Interior Health offers precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19
During a media briefing Friday in Vancouver, Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said there have been 11 new cases of COVID-19 detected in BC — including three administrative staff members at Lions Gate Hospital in North Vancouver — bringing the total in the province to 64.
Five of the new cases announced Friday are related to travel to Iran, Egypt, the Philippines and Mexico and one has been linked to the ongoing outbreak at Lynn Valley Care Centre in North Vancouver.
All of the 11 new cases are in the Vancouver Coastal Health region.
Interior Health Authority said that due to the heightened awareness over COVID-19, including the IH region which covers almost 215-thousand square kilometers and includes larger centers such as Kelowna, Kamloops, Cranbrook, Trail and Nelson, many people are asking to be tested for the illness.
“It is not necessary for all people to be tested,” a spokesperson for Interior Health said. “This is cold and flu season, which is what the vast majority of ill people within our health care region are likely to have.”
Earlier this week, a spokesperson at Interior Health Authority said there has been one case of COVID-19 confirmed in the region and that woman was currently at home in isolation, posing no risk to the exposure to the public, and is not in a facility.
However, IH said anyone who thinks they may need to be tested for COVID-19, should call 811 or contact their local clinic or family doctor where they will be assessed by a series of questions.
“It’s important to call ahead to allow health care facilities to take proper precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” Interior Health said. “If it’s an emergency and only if you need care urgently, call 911.”
Interior Health said it is not necessary for any member of the public to attend an emergency department at a local hospital if they are not acutely ill.
“Testing is occurring at a number of community locations,” IH said.
“Some physicians and nurse practitioners are able to test in their offices, but you must call ahead first to discuss appropriate steps. Some patients will be referred by appointment to a health-care facility in their community for testing, which is a throat swab.”
Interior Health said testing is taking place to contain the illness and protect populations who are most at risk of getting sick.
“That population is primarily elderly people and/or those with underlying health conditions,” Interior Health said.
As of March 13, 2020, 6,326 individuals have been tested in B.C. The 811 navigators and nurses have provided support to over 10,000 callers in the last three days.
Earlier Friday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, himself in self-isolation due to the confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis for his wife, Sophie, said federal government is warning the public against international travel and is limiting inbound flights as part of a series of measures to limit the spread of COVID-19.
The Government of Canada is also advising Canadians to avoid all travel on cruise ships due COVID-19 until further notice.
Thursday, Dr. Henry and BC Health Minister Adrian Dix recommended against all non-essential travel outside of Canada, including to the United States.
“Effective (Thursday), anyone who chooses to travel outside of Canada will be asked to stay away from work or school for 14 days upon their return,” Dr. Henry and Dix said.
“We know that this is a voluntary measure, but it is our expectation that people will follow this direction as part of their civic duty.”