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 laboratory technician holds a dose of a COVID-19 novel coronavirus vaccine candidate that’s ready for trial on monkeys at the National Primate Research Center of Thailand. (Mladen Antonov - AFP)
Interior Health reports 66 new COVID-19 infections

570 cases are active; 18 in hospital

The Trail Smoke Eaters are practicing preparation and patience for whenever the provincial health authority gives them and the BCHL the green light to play hockey. Photo: Jim Bailey.
Trail Smoke Eaters ready and willing to play, when able

Trail Smoke Eaters staff are keeping players engaged and committed as suspension of play continues

An RCMP cruiser looks on as a military search and rescue helicopter winds down near Bridesville, B.C. Tuesday, Dec. 1. Photo courtesy of RCMP Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey
Boundary Mountie and suspect airlifted from ravine after foot chase

Military aircraft were dispatched from Comox, B.C., say RCMP

Southern Interior Land Trust ensured that bighorn sheep and other wildlife will have an extra 86 acres of land for wildlife conservation, after purchasing a large tract of grassland near Grand Forks. Photo: SILT
Grand Forks grasslands purchased for wildlife conservation

Southern Interior Land Trust buys 86 acres of prime grazing land for California bighorn

Serge Pasquali delivers a stone at Trail Retirees Curling. Photo: submitted.
Trail Retiree Curling: Team Pasquali holds off Noble

Trail Retiree Curling Club started up its second session last week

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s coronavirus situation at the legislature, Nov. 30, 2020. (B.C. government)
Hockey team brought COVID-19 back from Alberta, B.C. doctor says

Dr. Bonnie Henry pleads for out-of-province travel to stop

B.C. Premier John Horgan on a conference call with religious leaders from his B.C. legislature office, Nov. 18, 2020, informing them in-person church services are off until further notice. (B.C. government)
B.C. tourism relief coming soon, Premier John Horgan says

Industry leaders to report on their urgent needs next week

An RCMP cruiser looks on as a military search and rescue helicopter winds down near Bridesville, B.C. Tuesday, Dec. 1. Photo courtesy of RCMP Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey
B.C. Mountie, suspect airlifted by Canadian Armed Forces from ravine after foot chase

Military aircraft were dispatched from Comox, B.C., say RCMP

An 18-year old male southern resident killer whale, J34, is stranded near Sechelt in 2016. A postmortem examination suggests he died from trauma consistent with a vessel strike. (Photo supplied by Paul Cottrell, Fisheries and Oceans Canada)
“We can do better” — humans the leading cause of orca deaths: study

B.C. research reveals multitude of human and environmental threats affecting killer whales

A logo for Netflix on a remote control is seen in Portland, Ore.,Aug. 13, 2020. Experts in taxation and media say a plan announced Monday by the government will ultimately add to the cost of digital services and goods sold by foreign companies. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Jenny Kane
‘Netflix tax’ for digital media likely to raise prices for consumers, experts say

The government says Canadian companies already collect those taxes when they make digital sales

BIG SALMON ranch in Washington State. (Center for Whale Research handout)
Non-profit buys Chinook ranch in hopes of increasing feed for southern resident killer whales

The ranch, which borders both sides of Washington State’s Elwha River, is a hotspot for chinook salmon

Gaming content was big on YouTube in 2020. (Black Press Media files)
What did Canadians watch on Youtube during isolation? Workouts, bird feeders

Whether it was getting fit or ‘speaking moistly,’ Canadians had time to spare this year

Most Read