COVID-19 in B.C.: What British Columbians can do to help contact tracing and stop the spread of the coronavirus

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      British Columbia passed the 3,000 mark for the total number of COVID-19 cases that have been confirmed in the province since the pandemic began.

      In addition, B.C. Public Safety Minister and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth, acting on recommendations from B.C.’s health and emergency management officials, extended the provincial state of emergency to July 21.

      Daily update: July 8

      Dix and Dr. Henry announced that there are 18 new cases in the province, bringing the cumulative total to 3,008 over the course of the pandemic.

      So far, there have been 1,018 cases in Vancouver Coastal Health, 1,589 in Fraser Health, 133 in Island Health, 203 in Interior Health, and 65 in Northern Health.

      Currently, there are 162 active cases in B.C., with 17 of those individuals in hospital (three patients are in intensive care).

      Sadly, there are three new deaths.

      B.C.’s total number of fatalities is now at 186.

      As there are no new health-care outbreaks, there remain two long-term care facilities and one acute-care unit with active outbreaks.

      There are no new community outbreaks, but there have been three exposure events at nightlife venues in Vancouver—Brandi’sthe No. 5 Orange, and Hotel Belmont—and new cases in B.C., including one at a McDonald’s restaurant in Surrey.

      After the news release was issued as today's B.C. COVID-19 update, Vancouver Coastal Health announced that the public notice about a potential COVID-19 exposure incident at the No. 5 Orange has expanded, as a second person, who attended the venue on additional dates, has tested positive.

      A total of 2,660 people in B.C. have recovered.

      Helping contact tracing

      Although B.C. has maintained a manageable number of new cases, examples from around the world, including Israel and Australia, show that spikes in cases after low numbers can lead to lockdowns being reintroduced.

      Consequently, Dr. Henry and Dix are reminding everyone to remain vigilant.

      “As we have seen in many other locations around the world, one slip can quickly cause a surge in new cases,” they stated.

      While instructions about health precautions have been repeated many times, something else that people can do is to ensure they have the information that contact tracers need.

      Contact tracing involves public-health team members reaching all contacts of a confirmed case to inform them that they may have been exposed to COVID-19. They will determine if the contacts need to self-isolate or be tested.

      The faster and more successfully they can reach all contacts of a diagnosed case, the better the chances are that the virus can be contained. By providing contract tracers with contact information, you can ensure they are able to reach anyone exposed to the virus. 

      If they are unable to reach all individuals at risk, a public bulletin will have to be issued, as was the case with the recent exposure incidents in Downtown Vancouver.

      Dr. Henry has said in the past that contact tracing is one of the measures that public health uses to break social chains of transmission, preventing the virus from spreading out of control.

      Based on previously mentioned tips from Dr. Henry and Dix and the B.C. Centre for Disease Control, here are some things people can do to ensure the contact-tracing process works efficiently:

      • Conduct a personal risk assessment when deciding where to go and who to see.
      • Ensure you know who all your contacts are.
      • Ensure you have contact information for all individuals you interact with outside your social bubble. (An optional measure is to maintain a daily log of people you have spent time with.)
      • Maintain a small number of social contacts—the larger the number, the more challenging it is for contact tracers to speedily reach everyone who may have been exposed.
      • A person who tests positive should not do their own contact tracing, as contact tracers need to ask contacts a series of questions.

      Canada’s chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, recommends all Canadians should avoid the three Cs:

      • crowded spaces, or anywhere with large numbers of people;
      • closed spaces, particularly indoor spaces with poor ventilation;
      • places with close contact, where physical distance cannot be maintained.
      You can follow Craig Takeuchi on Twitter at @cinecraig or on Facebook