Kamloops city councillor ‘frustrated’ with lack of Interior Health communication during pandemic - InfoNews

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Kamloops city councillor ‘frustrated’ with lack of Interior Health communication during pandemic

March 23, 2020 - 2:05 PM

Kamloops city councillor Bill Sarai is concerned and frustrated with the lack of communication coming from Interior Health amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

This past weekend, Interior Health sent out a notice to the Kamloops Curling Club and Sportsman’s Curling Bonspiel participants stating that a person infected with COVID-19 was at the tournament and directing attendees to self-isolate. However, no notification was sent out to the general public about the incident.

“It was quite concerning when I found out yesterday (March 22) that the curling club was sending out emails to its members only because that’s the people who were at the (tournament) when this outbreak happened," Sarai said, adding that spectators and other residents could have been made aware of the outbreak.

Rob Nordin, with the Kamloops Curling Club, said participants in the tournament included residents from across B.C. including Kelowna, Vernon and the Lower Mainland.

It’s been “frustrating” for Kamloops and Interior residents to get information from Interior Health, Sarai said.

“Yes, Dr. Henry provides daily information sessions but I think it would really help the Interior, and Kamloops and Kelowna in particular, to let us know where the cases are. We don’t need addresses but I think it would help as a councillor,” he said.

People are not taking this pandemic seriously by thinking it’s not here, he said.

“This isn’t a fire matter, this isn’t a flooding issue, this is a health crisis and Interior Heath Authority should be our lead agency guiding us and I feel like they’re just not there right now.”

“I would like to see a daily, if not every few days, updates from them, what they’re doing, how are cities coping and advice they can give us," he said. "They’re telling us to stay home. It’s great advice and not everybody is doing that and I think they’re not doing that because they don’t think this is a serious crisis yet.”

He said he is not criticizing the work of heath care workers like doctors and nurses, saying it's “upper communications at Interior Health (that) could be a lot better.”

Mayor Ken Christian said he understands Sarai’s concerns but this isn't the time to be critical of other government bodies.

The Kamloops emergency operations centre has been having daily calls with Interior Health, Christian said.

While he’s been on the record a number of times voicing his concerns about Interior Health, the City needs to make the best of the situation as they’ll be continuously working with them, he said.

Susan Duncan, Interior Health communications officer, said the provincial health officer is encouraging people to take action and assume COVID-19 is in their communities. She recommended people stay home, practice social distancing and call ahead if there's a need to visit the hospital or heath care provider.

"When we have a confirmed case of COVID-19, Interior Health public health reaches out to individuals who may have been exposed. When we are unable to reach all people in a group, other organizations are asked to distribute the notifications. We would issue a public service announcement if we are not confident health officials can reach all the individuals who may have been exposed. That decision will be made on the advice of (Interior Health) medical health officers," she said in an emailed statement.

"We can confirm notification did occur Sunday for people who attended the Kamloops Curling Bonspiel from March 12 to 15. This notification went out from the bonspiel organizers at the request of Interior Health. When there is a positive case, the patient receives support from the health authority’s public health teams."

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