A woman with a mask on walks across View Street in Victoria. As of May 22, Vancouver Island has seen only one new case of COVID-19 in two weeks. (Arnold Lim / Black Press)

Vancouver Island hasn’t seen a new homegrown case of COVID-19 in two weeks

Island’s low and steady transmission rate chalked up to several factors

Experts say that geography, demographics and strategy are all contributing factors in the success – thus far – of Vancouver Island in fighting the transmission of COVID-19.

On Vancouver Island, new cases of COVID-19 were stagnant for two weeks in late May, rising only by one new case on May 22. With only two active cases and the lowest cumulative incidence per 100,000 population across all the province’s health regions, Vancouver Island appears well poised for phase two of the B.C. restart plan.

On the Island, the new case reported Friday was a person associated with the Kearl Lake outbreak “who completed their self-isolation in Alberta and has since recovered,” a statement from Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix noted.

“People within Vancouver Island have done an exceptional job in flattening the curve,” Island Health Chief Medical Officer Richard Stanwick told Black Press Media. “We have not had any additional COVID-19 test positive cases in approximately two weeks and it appears the virus is not circulating widely on the Island right now. The people who have had the virus are recovering, so that’s really good news.”

As of the morning of May 25, the region has confirmed 127 cases and has seen 121 people recover from the virus. Five people have died, and though 25 have been hospitalized, only one person remains in hospital care. The number of cases sat at 126 from May 7 – a data correction on May 14 clarified earlier reported numbers – until May 25.

READ ALSO: Still no COVID-19 cases at Island Health long-term care facilities

Stanwick notes that the lack of outbreaks in long-term care facilities is “one of the most encouraging signs that the measures we’re taking continue to work.”

Elizabeth Borycki, professor of health information at the University of Victoria, says geography is one piece of the transmission rate.

“We are geographically isolated, we are on an island, but prior to COVID-19, we had an international airport and we received a lot of traffic by ship and even through the various ferry systems,” she said. “What we have is a group of individuals that care and understand what the provincial public health officer has said since it became part of their daily lives.”

Borycki suggests the Island, by keeping transmission low, thus far, is feedback for the provincial strategy.

“We’re all listening and achieving the affects that are needed,” she said. “And we’re protecting people as a result.”

RELATED: COVID-19 cases next to nil on Vancouver Island

Frederick Grouzet, UVic professor of psychology, speculates that for British Columbians, health authorities are seen as being more separate from the provincial government, possibly offering a bipartisan edge to regional messaging.

“The health authorities are quite independent from the government, and that contributes to the trust,” he says. “And the message is always based on strong evidence. They are explaining why we are doing what we are doing. And so people can make sense of it very quickly and then after that, adopt the proper behaviour.”

According to Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, a second wave is inevitable. Stanwick encourages Islanders’ to stick to what’s worked so far.

“It’s important that people don’t let down their guard and that we are mindful the situation could rapidly change,” Stanwick said. “That’s why it’s critical we continue to take precautions to protect ourselves and our loved ones by physical distancing, washing our hands regularly and practising good cough etiquette.”

READ ALSO: Nanaimo, Royal Jubilee to be Vancouver Island’s COVID-19 frontline hospitals



nina.grossman@blackpress.ca

Follow us on Instagram
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

CoronavirusIsland Health

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Provincial COVID-19 data can now be used for B.C. to prepare for a second wave

In the past week, B.C. has seen a slight spike in daily test-positive case counts

Four air ambulance flights out of Terrace delayed or cancelled

Pandemic precautions caused nighttime closure of service station providing weather data to pilots

Skeena Resources, Tahltan prez excited by purchase of Eskay Creek

Skeena gets full control of mine, Barrick gets 12 per cent of Skeena and a one per cent royalty

VIA Rail lays off 1,000 unionized workers across the country

Northern B.C. route Jasper to Prince George to Prince Rupert is not affected by VIA Rail layoffs

Overall house sales drop in the northwest

COVID-19 pandemic slowed market activity

Wage subsidy will be extended until December amid post-COVID reopening: Trudeau

Trudeau said the extension will ‘give greater certainty and support to businesses’

Tree planters get help with COVID-19 protective measures

Ottawa funds extra transportation, sanitizing for crews

Trudeau apologizes for not recusing himself from WE decision

He says his and his family’s longtime involvement with the WE organization should have kept him out of the discussions

Beverly Hills 90210 star’s family selling Vancouver Island Beach Resort

You can own Jason Priestley’s Terrace Beach Resort in Ucluelet for less than $5 million

Islanders want BC Ferries to follow order that lets residents board before tourists

For ferry-dependent communities, ferries are often the sole practical lifeline to work, school or medical appointments.

Washington’s NFL team drops ‘Redskins’ name after 87 years

The franchise was given the name back in 1933, when it was still in Boston

Genetic detectives begin work to trace spread of COVID-19 in Canada

The kinds of genetic technology being used for this project did not exist when SARS hit Canada in 2003

Most Read