Health officials are discouraging travel to and from Vancouver Island as COVID-19 cases rise. (Black Press Media file photo)

Health officials are discouraging travel to and from Vancouver Island as COVID-19 cases rise. (Black Press Media file photo)

At least 86 of Vancouver Island’s fall COVID-19 cases were people who travelled

More than 500 Vancouver Islanders currently isolating after COVID-19 exposures

Travel to and from Vancouver Island has caused dozens of cases of COVID-19, according to Dr. Richard Stanwick, chief medical health officer for Island Health.

Stanwick’s staff analyzed confirmed Island cases between September and November and found that more than half (86) of the 133 cases were linked to travel and 66 were cases of Islanders leaving and coming back. It’s unclear if the travel was essential, but at least 20 of those 66 were people who travelled to the Lower Mainland specifically. Those 20 passed COVID-19 to 11 people on the Island, who in turn gave the virus to another four people.

“We don’t know whether it was essential or not, but certainly some probably were not,” Stanwick said. “And they came back with COVID.”

It’s one of the ways the numbers creep up, Stanwick added. On Nov. 18, 556 people on Vancouver Island were self-isolating after being in contact with a person with COVID-19.

“We’re not being as careful as we were earlier on when we were enjoying periods where we had no cases or just a handful of cases,” he said. “When we had a case, we usually had about two individuals who were immediate high-risk contacts. That number has doubled to four.”

READ ALSO: City of Victoria employee tests positive for COVID-19

Dr. Richard Stanwick, chief medical health officer for Island Health, urges people to avoid travel and stick to health protocols like hand washing, mask-wearing and social distancing. (Black Press Media file photo)

Canada’s Atlantic provinces have created a “travel bubble,” allowing for residents who have self-isolated for 14 days to travel between the Maritime provinces without restrictions. Those who leave and return from outside the region have to self-isolate again.

Stanwick doesn’t have the authority to initiate a travel ban or “bubble” for Vancouver Island – that would have to come down from the province and through provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.

“Dr. Henry is evidence-driven,” Stanwick said. “If we want her to do something different, we have to come up with why we believe this is the case, and it’s not just a gut feeling.”

In her Nov. 17 public address, Henry encouraged staying local and travelling less, particularly for people in the Island, Interior and northern regions.

“When we spend time inside with people from outside of our household, our work group or school cohort, the risks increase for everyone,” she said. “Instead, let’s stay connected virtually and make it a safer winter for all of us.”

Stanwick notes there is a lot that can be done within the community, with or without an Island travel bubble. He said everyone must continue to implement the early – and consistent – orders for handwashing, distancing, mask-wearing and limiting social contact.

“Those basics seem to have slipped a little bit,” he said. “What’s happening in the community will very much determine what’s happening in our school system and what’s happening in our hospitals.”

As of Nov. 18, there are 114 active cases of COVID-19 in the Island Health region and 6,589 across B.C. More than 300 British Columbians have died and 16,469 have recovered.

READ ALSO: Police issue more than a dozen pandemic-related fines across Greater Victoria this year


Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email: nina.grossman@blackpress.ca. Follow us on Instagram.
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

CoronavirusVancouver Island Health Authority

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

Just Posted

A city hall source said the grant will go toward Grand Forks’ budget for 2021. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Province, feds give Grand Forks ‘COVID Re-start’ grant

The funds come with spending directives, transparency requirements

Grand Forks’ Roly Russell met with The Gazette after he was named Parliamentary Secretary for Rural Development Thursday, Nov. 26. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
NDP’s Roly Russell named secretary for rural development

Russell formerly represented rural Grand Forks on the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary’s elected board

RNG plant
Construction on ground-breaking RNG plant in Fruitvale set to go in spring 2021

REN Energy partners with Calgary engineering firm for innovative West Kootenay gas plant

Katrine Conroy’s swearing in ceremony. Photo: Kootenay West Katrine Conroy Facebook
Forestry Minister West Kootenay MLA Katrine Conroy talks about her new role

Conroy will also oversee Columbia Basin Trust, Columbia Power Corporation and Columbia Basin Treaty

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
47 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health region

1,538 total cases, 399 are active, ten in hospital

From the left: Grand Forks sculptor David Seven Deers, Rotary Club President Grant Hill and Shinning Raven Woman Council member Regina Burrows pose for The Gazette at Seven Deers’ 9th Street studio Friday, Nov. 27. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Grand Forks Rotarians raise money for Shining Raven Woman project

President Grant Hill said the Rotary Club “had to be a part of it”

Vehicles drive past a display thanking essential workers in Burnaby, B.C. on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marissa Tiel
B.C. changing COVID-19 case reporting as virus spread continues

Manual counting takes more time, leads to errors

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

Christy Jordan-Fenton is the co-author of the book Fatty Legs, which has been mentioned amid the controversy of an Abbotsford school assignment on residential schools.
Fatty Legs co-author responds to Abbotsford class assignment on residential schools

Children’s book mentioned amid controversy at W. A. Fraser Middle School

Kootenay East MLA Tom Shypitka takes over as energy and mines critic for the B.C. Liberal opposition. Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick (right) moves from health critic to assistant deputy speaker. (Hansard TV)
B.C. Liberals pick critics to take on Horgan’s NDP majority

Interim leader Shirley Bond takes seniors, long-term care

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland listens to a question from a reporter on the phone during a news conference in Ottawa, Monday, Nov. 30, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Spending too little worse than spending too much, Freeland says as Canada’s deficit tops $381B

‘The risk of providing too little support now outweighs that of providing too much’

Still from a video surveillance camera of a man alleged to have stolen from several people at knife-point in Chilliwack (Rosedale) early on Nov. 28, 2020. (Facebook)
B.C. man defends his family against intruder, saves neighbour while wielding hockey stick

RCMP looking for footage that captures violent crime spree in Chilliwack

Jim Neufeld, 55, was last seen leaving his home in Penticton Jan. 21, 2009. (RCMP photo)
Human remains found off U.S. coast in 2009 identified as Penticton man

Jim Neufeld, 55, was last seen leaving his home in Penticton Jan. 21, 2009

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond speaks to a reporter in Vancouver on November 13, 2015. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
No evidence that B.C. ER staff played blood alcohol level game, but Indigenous racism ‘widespread’

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond releases findings of independent investigation

Most Read