Contract tracing essential in B.C. as COVID-19 lockdown eases | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Contract tracing essential in B.C. as COVID-19 lockdown eases

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry
Image Credit: flickr.com
June 23, 2020 - 3:25 PM

As B.C. slowly opens up more of its economy, the number of new COVID-19 cases is likely to go up, so doing quick contact tracing is essential to keep residents healthy, according to provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.

During the lockdown, people were staying at home and only interacted with others at about 40 per cent as much as they normally did before the pandemic, Dr. Henry said, but that rate of contact has now increased to her target of 60 to 65 per cent of normal.

“We’re at a good balance right now,” she said during a modelling update today, June 23. “That’s where we want to stay for the next month.”

While there may be more actual contacts between people as they go shopping or to restaurants, things like Plexiglass barriers make those safe contacts.

Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Province of B.C.

But as Phase 3 of the province’s reopening, expected to be formally announced this week, will encourage more travel and possibly allow theatres to open, people need to continue to be careful about keeping safe distances, hand washing and wearing masks when appropriate.

"As we further relax, the completeness and rapidity of contact tracing will be even more important for controlling transmission, in combination with self-isolation by sick individuals and strict hygiene practices," she stated in the written part of her presentation.

It also means that medical health workers have to be able to track contacts between those who get sick, which is now being done effectively. But, she said, 75 per cent of new cases have to be quickly traced if the spread of COVID-19 is going to be controlled and rapid increases in cases avoided.

“This is bread and butter for us,” Dr. Henry said. “This is what we do all the time.”

Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Province of B.C.

There are between 500 to 600 health workers who are doing COVID-19 contact tracing in B.C.

But in order to manage that work, Dr. Henry is still limiting gatherings of people to less than 50, pointing out there have been outbreaks in large family groups in B.C. and a large church gathering in Oregon led to hundreds of new cases and several deaths.

She also urged British Columbians to make sure that visitors to B.C. follow the rules in place here. She rejected a suggestion that there be stricter penalties for anyone violating the rules, such as having large gatherings.

There have been 13 new cases in the past day, bringing the total in B.C. to 2,835 and there has been one new death.

Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Province of B.C.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Rob Munro or call 250-808-0143 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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