COVID-19 has made its way to Castlegar and local doctors are urging the public to take precautions to prevent its spread.
A local medical professional has confirmed that there are COVID-19 cases in Castlegar, but asked not to be named because of Interior Health’s policy against naming individual cities with cases.
In an open letter to the public issued Monday, Castlegar’s doctors made a plea for people to stay home and practice the social distancing and hygiene measures that the provincial health officer has been emphasizing.
“What our community does now will impact everyone’s health in the weeks and months to come. Lives depend on what we do today,” stated the letter.
Interior Health has confirmed it is testing residents at a Castlegar long-term care facility for COVID-19.
A spokesman for IH says it’s being done after an outbreak of a respiratory infection, Scenario, B was declared at Talarico Place on March 18. However, IH says that to date, no cases of COVID-19 have been detected in any care facility that IH administers.
Talarico Place and other extended care facilities have restricted visitors to essential visits only. Other measures have also been put in effect, like suspending programming and inter-facility transfers.
As of Monday, BC has 13 deaths and over 470 confirmed cases.
In her regular update, Dr. Bonnie Henry said she hoped to clear up the COVID-19 testing backlog within the next few days. Health Minster Adrian Dix said more than 1,200 beds have been added to the medical system since March 20.
So far the Interior Health Authority has declined to announce which cities have COVID-19 cases, citing privacy concerns, but Kootenay-Columbia MP Rob Morrison wants to see that changed.
He is urging Interior Health to disclose the communities where new COVID-19 cases are being identified.
“The health authority has restricted information on new COVID-19 cases to only numbers associated with one of the five health regions and is reported to not be willing to provide city-level information,” said Morrison in a statement.
“My office has made multiple requests of the provincial government’s top health official’s office to make this information available.
“Given the size of the area and the clarity this situation requires Interior Health should be releasing the locations (cities) of where COVID-19 is known to be present.”
Interior Health issued a statement stating, “The provincial health officer is urging all British Columbians, in all communities, to take action and to assume COVID-19 may be circulating within their community – whether they believe there has been a positive case or not.”
Castlegar’s doctors urge everyone to follow these guidelines:
• Stay home unless absolutely necessary — this means no dinner parties, no sports (even outside), no play dates, no gatherings of any kind.
• Stay connected with your family and friends online. Use Skype, Messenger or Facetime.
• Keep two meters apart from everyone if you must go out. That’s about two arms lengths. If you are walking outside or at a park or at the grocery store you must keep this distance to be safe.
• Wash your hands frequently with soap and water, use hand sanitizer if you have any. Avoid touching your face with your hands.
• Tell everyone to do the same.