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

Fraser Health has declared a COVID-19 outbreak at Newton Elementary School in Surrey, according to an information bulletin Friday, Nov. 27, 2020. (Image: Google Street View)
COVID-19 outbreak declared at second Surrey elementary school

Newton Elementary closed for two weeks, set to reopen Dec. 14

Joy Johnson, seen here during an installation ceremony on Oct. 22, is Simon Fraser University’s 10th president and vice-chancellor. (Submitted photo)
SFU’s Surrey campus tackling COVID-19-related research

‘We can learn now,’ SFU president Joy Johnson said, ‘so should something like this happen again we’ll be prepared. We have to learn from this current pandemic’

Cambridge Elementary School music teacher Darlene Lourenco is “on the mend” after contracting COVID-19. She had a two-week stay at Surrey Memorial Hospital, including in the ICU. (Photo: submitted)
Surrey music teacher at home after two-week hospital stay battling COVID-19

Meantime, Surrey Teachers’ Association sends letter with safety demands to board of education

Chief Constable Norm Lipinski, Surrey Police Service. (Submitted photo)
Hail to the chief – an in-depth interview with Surrey Police Service’s first boss

Chief Constable Norm Lipinski will assume his historic new role on Dec. 14

Tanvi Pandhi, a Grade 12 student at Fleetwood Park Secondary, took part in the Surrey school district’s survey of students in grades 10 to 12, with a focus on health and safety during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo: Lauren Collins)
Surrey students voice concerns about mask wearing, distancing in schools

Surrey school district has been surveying students in grades 10 to 12

Mary Cox and Jack Plant dance in their pyjamas and slippers at the morning pyjama dance during the Rhythm Reelers’ 25 Annual Rally in the Valley Square Dance Festival in Chilliwack on June 4, 2011. Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020 is Square Dancing Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Nov. 29 to Dec. 5

Square Dancing Day, Disability Day and International Ninja Day are all coming up this week

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

Kevin Bieksa during his days playing with the Vancouver Canucks. (Photo: commons.wikimedia.org)
Bieksa to guest on free Canucks Alumni ‘Hot Stove’ on Zoom app

Former NHL player has become a game analyst on Sportsnet

114 Canadians were appointed Nov. 27 to the Order of Canada. (Governor General of Canada photo)
Indigenous actor, author, elder, leaders appointed to Order of Canada

Outstanding achievement, community dedication and service recognized

Screenshot of Pastor James Butler giving a sermon at Free Grace Baptist Church in Chilliwack on Nov. 22, 2020. The church has decided to continue in-person services despite a public health order banning worship services that was issued on Nov. 19, 2020. (YouTube)
2 Lower Mainland churches continue in-person services despite public health orders

Pastors say faith groups are unfairly targeted and that charter rights protect their decisions

A big job: Former forests minister Doug Donaldson stands before a 500-year-old Douglas fir in Saanich to announce preservation of some of B.C.’s oldest trees, July 2019. (B.C. government)
B.C. returning to ‘stand-alone’ forests, rural development ministry

Horgan says Gordon Campbell’s super-ministry doesn’t work

Peter Wilson, left, and Micah Rankin, right, formed the Special Prosecutor team that was tasked with reviewing and litigating charges stemming from the Bountiful investigation. Trevor Crawley photo.
End of Bountiful prosecution wraps up decades of legal battles

Constitutional questions had to be settled before a polygamy prosecution could move forward

Alexandre Bissonnette, who pleaded guilty to a mass shooting at a Quebec City mosque, arrives at the courthouse in Quebec City on February 21, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mathieu Belanger - POOL
Court strikes down consecutive life sentences; mosque shooter has prison term cut

The decision was appealed by both the defence and the Crown

Gold medallists in the ice dance, free dance figure skating Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, of Canada, pose during their medals ceremony at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Charlie Riedel
Olympic champions Virtue, Moir and Tewksbury among 114 Order of Canada inductees

Moir and Virtue catapulted to national stardom with their gold-medal performances at the Winter Olympics in 2018

Most Read