VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – New COVID-19 cases, the number of active infections, and hospitalizations all continue to trend downward in B.C. as the province’s vaccination program rolls on.
However, despite these hopeful signs, the health minister and the provincial government are taking more heat over how COVID-19 data is being released to the public.
After last week’s revelation some information was not being released to the public, Health Minister Adrian Dix says he doesn’t believe trust in authorities has been damaged.
“And I know there are challenges from time to time. We learn from those challenges, we just keep going forward. You’ve seen us adapt consistently throughout this pandemic, and we’re going to continue to adapt in this phase of it as well,” he said Monday.
Dix says they have consistently listened to media when it comes to sharing information aimed at building confidence.
— Marcella Bernardo (@Bernardo1130) May 10, 2021
However, Liberal opposition leader Shirley Bond says it’s clear important data was being held back.
“And what is also obvious is that this premier stood up on a regular basis and said ‘Oh we’re the most transparent jurisdiction in the country. We now know that is absolutely not correct,” she said during Question Period Monday.
This all comes after a pair of internal BC Centre for Disease Control reports, each over 45 pages long, were obtained by the Vancouver Sun. They reportedly show, among other things, details of COVID-19 case counts and vaccinations at the neighbourhood level, as well as breakdowns about variants of concern — information many have been asking for for months and that is easily accessible in other provinces.
“The premier had information that British Columbians deserved to have, including neighbourhood-level cases, positivity and vaccination data. That information was withheld. So much for the promise of transparency,” Bond said.
After last week’s leak of detailed neighbourhood-level COVID data to the media – something many had been asking for – Health Minister Adrian Dix says he doesn’t believe public trust in the government has eroded. The Liberal opposition feels otherwise.
— Mike Lloyd (@llikemoyd) May 11, 2021
Premier John Horgan refutes claims that information was being withheld, saying the BCCDC and health officials have been releasing daily information on infections, hospitalizations, and other details for months.
“I believe that was trend setting at the time, and as the member knows full well, we have more information today on immunizations because we are doing more immunizations than ever before,” he said.
However, the province has been criticized by many, including the media, for not sharing certain data, and for taking too long to respond to requests for information.
Dix says adjustments are regularly being made to ensure the latest information is shared as soon as possible, and with the full support of the premier.
“One of our discussions from months ago was information about outbreaks in long-term care. That information continues to be provided every Thursday — it’s no longer of the greatest interest,” he said.
The health minister claims his government has consistently listened to media about calls for more transparency, and says the province’s track record during the pandemic remains strong.
Starting Wednesday, information about specific neighbourhoods will be shared online by the BC Centre for Disease Control.
There were 20 deaths reported between Friday and Monday, and more than 1,700 new cases in B.C. in that timeframe. But those new infections continue to slow to rates we haven’t seen since March, and active cases and hospitalizations for the virus also continue to creep downward.
-With files from Marcella Bernardo