FILE – Chief Public Health Officer of Canada Dr. Theresa Tam listens to questions at a press conference on COVID-19 at West Block on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, on Tuesday, March 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

FILE – Chief Public Health Officer of Canada Dr. Theresa Tam listens to questions at a press conference on COVID-19 at West Block on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, on Tuesday, March 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

14-day quarantine is key, but hospitals preparing for potential COVID-19 ‘surge’: Tam

Influx of snowbirds, March break travellers expected

Although the Canadian government is doing what it can to prepare for snowbirds and spring break travellers returning to the country, its chief medical health officer said hospitals are preparing for a “surge” in COVID-19 cases.

Dr. Theresa Tam answered questions Sunday about health care systems throughout the provinces that are readying community centres, arenas and other buildings as make-shift COVID-19 treatment facilities.

“Of course, given the various influxes, like the March break returnees that are still coming back or snowbirds, hospitals are trying to prepare for that surge,” Tam said.

She said the most “fundamental public health measure” was to ensure returning travellers remained in quarantine for 14 days.

“The penalties are substantial if you do not.”

Earlier this week, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said travellers who return to Canada as of March 25 will have their contact information collected and authorities will follow-up to make sure they are following instructions. Canada shut its borders earlier this month to slow the spread of COVID-19, but repatriation flights have brought hundreds home.

READ MORE: Canada now mandating all returning travellers to quarantine: Freeland

Under the Quarantine Act, any person who causes “a risk of imminent death or serious bodily harm to another person while wilfully or recklessly contravening this act” could be subject to a max fine of up $1 million and a three-year prison term, or a fine of $300,000 and a six-month prison term, for an indictment conviction or a summary conviction, respectfully.

Tam said many hospitals have decreased their ICU occupancy rates by 50 per cent as they prepare for more COVID-19 patients.

Many hospitals, including B.C., have discharged patients and cancelled elective procedures, hoping to be ready for any possible influx of patients. As of Sunday, Canada had recorded 5,866 positive cases of the virus, and 63 deaths. The death rate is about one per cent, Tam said, and three per cent of patients have ended up in intensive care. More than 205,000 people have been tested for COVID-19.

Tam said she was cautiously optimistic after seeing the modelling released by B.C. within the past few days. Health officials there say 45 per cent of COVID-19 patients have recovered, but despite the good news, Tam said the next week will be critical in determining where Canada’s situation goes.

COVID-19: Canadian cases, by province

Speaking on Tuesday, B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix said hospital bed occupancy was at 66 per cent across the province, down from an average of 103.5 per cent. He said the critical care bed occupancy rate is at 55 per cent. At a press conference later that week, Dix said the province has now cleared more than 3,900 beds, 371 of them critical care beds.

B.C. health authorities have identified 17 “primary COVID” hospital care sites, and is planning to use all hospital sites as needed to meet demand. Total ventilator-capable beds currently are at 705, including beds and equipment usually used for surgical patients.

On Sunday, Dr. Howard Njoo, deputy chief public health officer, said the feds are working on a Canada-wide inventory of ventilators, but acknowledged that an earlier estimate that 5,000 will be needed is likely now out-of-date.

“It’s difficult to say what number of ventilators is needed because what we’re planning to do is prepare the systems so we never have that peak requirement,” Njoo said. The government has ordered an additional 600 ventilators, Tam said.

“We’re pulling out all the stops to try and get access to whatever we have,” she said, noting there are “supply issues, globally” for masks and other personal protective equipment.

READ MORE: No plans to call in military right now to enforce COVID-19 quarantine, Trudeau says

READ MORE: B.C. is seeing the highest rate of COVID-19 recovery in Canada, and there’s a few reasons why

– With files from Tom Fletcher/Black Press Media


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Coronavirus

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

Just Posted

Photo: Sheri Regnier
Unity is Strength

Local 480 donates $1,000 to Trail Salvation Army Christmas campaign

Photo: Carl Heyerdahl on Unsplash
Kootenay angler winner

Grand prize draw to be held in June 2021

Every year on Dec. 6, Canada observes National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. The day commemorates the anniversary of the École Polytechnique massacre in 1989. To recognize this day, the City of Trail lights the bridge red. Photo: Trail Times
Trail advocates call attention to violence against women

“The 16 Days are an opportunity to unite with others,” saya Ann Godderis.

Crews retrieved the overturned commercial truck from the crash scene on Friday, Nov. 20. Photo: Betsy Kline
UPDATE: Kootenay woman dies in Genelle collision

The incident occurred Thursday, Nov. 19.

A man wearing a face mask to help curb the spread of COVID-19 walks in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020. The use of masks is mandatory in indoor public and retail spaces in the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
104 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health

IH is reporting the new numbers since Friday, Nov. 20

People wearing face masks to help curb the spread of COVID-19 cross a street in downtown Vancouver, on Sunday, November 22, 2020. The use of masks is mandatory in indoor public and retail spaces in the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. reports 17 COVID deaths, 1,933 new cases as hospitalizations surge over the weekend

There are 277 people in hospital, of whom 59 are in ICU or critical care

An aerial shot of Cedar Valley Lodge this past August, LNG Canada’s newest accommodation for workers at the project site in Kitimat. This is where several employees are isolating after a COVID-19 outbreak was declared last Thursday (Nov. 19). (Photo courtesy of LNG Canada)
Forty-one positive COVID-19 cases associated with the LNG Canada site outbreak in Kitimat

Thirty-four of the 41 cases remain active, according to Northern Health

7-year-old Mackenzie Hodge from Penticton sent a hand-written letter to premiere John Horgan asking if she’d be able to see her elf, Ralph under the new coronavirus restrictions. (John Horgan / Twitter)
Elf on the shelf an acceptable house guest, B.C. premier tells Penticton girl

A 7-year-old from Penticton penned a letter asking if she’d be allowed to see her elf this year

Workers arrive at the Lynn Valley Care Centre seniors home, in North Vancouver, B.C., on Saturday, March 14, 2020. It was the site of Canada’s first COVID-19 outbreak in a long-term care facility. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Rapid tests ‘not a panacea’ for care homes, Dr. Bonnie Henry says

B.C. lacks capacity for daily tests of thousands of workers

(Delta Police Department photo)
Cannabis edibles found in Halloween bag lead B.C. police to illegal lab

Delta police arrested a man and a woman while executing a warrant at a residential property Nov. 20

A woman being arrested at a Kelowna Value Village after refusing to wear a mask on Nov. 22.(@Jules50278750/Twitter)
VIDEO: Woman arrested for refusing to wear mask at Kelowna Value Village

RCMP claims the woman was uncooperative with officers, striking them a number of times and screaming

B.C. Liberal MLA Shirley Bond questions NDP government ministers in the B.C. legislature, Feb. 19, 2020. (Hansard TV)
Cabinet veteran Shirley Bond chosen interim leader of B.C. Liberals

28-member opposition prepares for December legislature session

Motorists wait to enter a Fraser Health COVID-19 testing facility, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, November 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
COVID-19: What do rising positivity rates mean for B.C.? It’s not entirely clear

Coronavirus cases are on the rise but the province has not unveiled clear thresholds for further measures

A rider carves a path on Yanks Peak Saturday, Nov. 21. Two men from Prince George went missing on the mountain the next day. One of them, Colin Jalbert, made it back after digging out his sled from four feet under the snow. The other, Mike Harbak, is still missing. Local search and rescue teams went out looking Monday, Nov. 23. (Sam Fait Photo)
‘I could still be the one out there’: Snowmobiler rescued, 1 missing on northern B.C. mountain

As Quesnel search and rescue teams search for the remaining rider, Colin Jalbert is resting at home

Most Read