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Vancouver Island top doctor urges mainland visitors to stay away as cases spike

Last Updated Nov 17, 2020 at 5:07 pm PST

FILE -- COVID-19 testing. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

There are now 556 people isolating on Vancouver Island, ten times more than there were a few weeks ago

Chief Medical Health Officer for Island Health urges visitors to stay away until there is a vaccine

Dr. Richard Stanwick says some islanders brought cases back from Metro Vancouver, but mainlander tourists brought more

VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) — Vancouver Island’s top doctor isn’t looking to cut off travel from the mainland but is asking everyone to stay put unless travelling on or off the island is absolutely essential.

Dr. Richard Stanwick, chief medical health officer for Island Health, says the Island is at risk of going in the same direction as Metro Vancouver — where cases have been surging — now that 566 people are in isolation, ten times higher than it was a few weeks ago.

While he isn’t saying don’t come ever, it is clear that people shouldn’t be visiting now.

“Can you postpone your visit to a time when COVID is perhaps better controlled? In hotspots, and even on the Island, we’d love to have people well-vaccinated before visitors arrive.”

Looking at recent cases, Stanwick says 66 people were islanders bringing the virus back with them. Another 20 cases were from visiting mainlanders that led to ten direct transmissions and four secondary ones.

Stanwick says contacts for each positive case have doubled, putting massive pressure on contact tracers.

In the province’s recent modelling data, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry stressed how far COVID-19 transmission can go and how the second wave of the pandemic has been stretching contact tracers to their limits.

Henry, along with Health Minister Adrian Dix, urged people to avoid travelling outside their communities since travel from the Lower Mainland has led to an increase in infections.