COVID this past week in North Vancouver Island

Syringes with bottle with COVID 19 vaccine on white background
Syringes with bottle with COVID 19 vaccine on white background by Marco Verch, Professional Photographer, via Flickr (CC BY SA, 2.0 License)
Roy Hales - CKTZ - Cortes IslandBC | 17-12-2020

By Roy L Hales

This past week was the deadliest British Columbia has seen since the pandemic began. Dr Bonnie Henry reported 24 new deaths yesterday, which brings the total number of fatalities since last Friday to 105. The number of active cases in the province is close to 10,000.

However there is also good news.

The Vaccine is coming

British Columbia’s first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine were given to front line health care workers on Tuesday. A small shipment, possibly consisting of two trays of vaccine, will arrive on Vancouver Island next week.

Numbers falling on Vancouver Island

The number of active COVID cases is falling on Vancouver Island.

There were 19 active cases reported in North Vancouver Island yesterday. Only two weeks ago, there were 41.

Thanks to prompt action by the Klahoose First Nation’s emergency operation team, there are no known active cases on Cortes Island. But Island Health does not report the whereabouts of individual cases. So the public does not know when the virus actually reached Cortes and, to paraphrase Dr Charmaine Enns, Medical Health Officer for North Vancouver Island, it is best to assume it is still among us.

Child with mask

photo credit: courtesy Simóca & Annus via Flickr (CC BY SA, 2.0 License)

Testing

Dr Enns said,  “Even on Vancouver Island, we only swab someone with symptoms but … right now, 99% of the people we swab do not have COVID. So, out of a hundred we swabbed yesterday, only one came back positive and [almost] invariably they were a close contact.”

When someone swabs positive, a nurse interviews them to determine the infectious period. They start at the point when their symptoms began.

“Even people who have underlying medical conditions … can invariably say this is when something change. On this date, I lost my taste and smell … I’m always healthy, never have a problem, but on that day I had a bit of a fever and a dry cough,” continued Dr Enns.

“Once we know when the symptoms started, we go backwards two days to identify anyone who have been exposed to that person during what we call the presymptomatic period. Then we go forward then days from when symptoms started. So that full twelve days is what we’re calling the period of communicability.”

“That [first] two days is a very precautionary capture of people, because we don’t have a lot of evidence that there is transmission in that period. It is our very precautionary approach to identify people who may have been exposed.”

“ … Once someone has gone ten days from when their symptoms started, we are very confident that there aren’t infectious anymore. In fact, the literature says probably by day 8, but we extend it by a couple of days to make sure we are going beyond that period of infectiousness. Occasionally some people test [positive] at the very end, or just past, and are infectious.”

“ … The test can pick up virus for 100 days after somebody has been infectious because it is a very sensitive test that picks up genetic material of the virus. So a positive test does not mean your infectious, it just means have to investigate and define your infectious period. We have many people who are testing and are past their infectious [period. That’s not a surprise anymore.”

Close contacts

She continued, “If you are sitting at the break room, across the table from each other, talking – maybe laughing, which increases the droplet transmission; you are sitting there for ten minutes, but you do that for two days in a row – that’s an exposure. That is a close contact because it is cumulative more than 15 minutes during that period of infectiousness.”

Statistics for Vancouver Island

According to the British Columbia COVID 19 Dashboard, there are currently 81 active cases on Vancouver Island. Two people have died in the past two weeks. 7 are now in hospital and 4 are in critical care. 707 have recovered.

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