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B.C. set to unveil new COVID-19 measures as case numbers rise, health-care system strained

Last Updated Nov 19, 2020 at 6:11 am PST

FILE - Specimens to be tested for COVID-19 are seen at LifeLabs after being logged upon receipt at the company's lab, in Surrey, B.C., on Thursday, March 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Summary

The province is expected to reveal new COVID-19 measures on Thursday, as case numbers continue to spike

B.C.'s premier has hinted at stricter restrictions as COVID-19 case numbers continue to hit record highs

On Wednesday, John Horgan discouraged all non-essential travel in the province

VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) – Premier John Horgan has hinted at a coming crackdown for B.C. as the COVID-19 infection rate spikes.

At a briefing Wednesday, where he discouraged all non-essential travel in B.C., he alluded to more measures to be detailed on Thursday.

Infectious Diseases expert Doctor Isaac Bogoch wouldn’t be surprised if more sweeping measures were announced to help stop the spread of the virus in the province.

“Typically, if you have lower case numbers in a community, we’ve seen time and time again in different parts of the world that focused, targeted measures are helpful in keeping those numbers low,” he explains.

Related video: B.C. Premier calls for national response to non-essential travel

“But, of course, once your cases in a community rise to high levels, sometimes, the options for getting this under control with those targeted measure just become fewer, and fewer, and fewer, and it’s just more challenging. So, unfortunately, especially if case numbers rise to such a degree and health-care systems are starting to get stretched, unfortunately, more blunt measures are needed to really curb the spread of the infection.”

Bogoch says that can come in the form of a broader lockdown, as opposed to a targeted approach, which has been seen in other parts of the country.

“Of course, we know how challenging those (lockdowns) can be, from an economic standpoint, from a psychological standpoint, and even from a health standpoint. But on the other hand, with all the imperfections associated with that, it really is your last card to play if your health-care system is about to be stretched to or beyond capacity,” he tells NEWS 1130.

Record daily cases

For two days in a row, the number of new COVID-19 cases and people hospitalized because of the virus reached record highs on Wednesday.

The provincial health officer has stressed the importance of British Columbians doing their best to curb the spread of the coronavirus in order to ease pressure on the health-care system.

“This second surge is putting a strain on our health-care system, our workplaces and us all,” a joint release from Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix reads. “While your personal efforts may seem small or having little impact, the collective benefit to every community in every region is significant. Our safety layers are there to help protect us and they work best when we are all using them, all of the time.”

Impacts of restrictions

Bogoch says it’s a challenging thing to know exactly what measures will be effective or not. He points out many COVID-19-related public health measures will have consequences associated with them.

Significant restrictions, such as those on businesses, travel, and stay-at-home orders for all but essential services, may help reduce transmission within the community, he explains. But it can also disproportionately impact marginalized, racialized, immigrant, and low-income communities, he says.

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“So whenever we hear about the imposition of public health measures, I think it’s also important to discuss how we’re going to support those who might be disproportionately impacted by these policies.”

Ontario is also expecting a further implementation of measures, to be announced on Friday.

“They certainly can be helpful, but we also have to acknowledge how we can support those who might be impacted by these measures as well,” Bogoch says.

-With files from Kathryn Tindale