Picturing your post pandemic life in B.C.? You may want to hold on | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Picturing your post pandemic life in B.C.? You may want to hold on

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry speaks to reporters from Vancouver as Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on Dec. 29, 2020.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED / Province of B.C.
May 10, 2021 - 4:45 PM

With more places around the globe offering up their re-opening plans, British Columbians are becoming increasingly interested in hearing about what’s next for them — a question the province’s top doctor was faced with repeatedly today at a press conference.

“A lot of our work will be focused on those sectors where there need to be specific things, (like restaurants and tourism),” provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said today, May 10, explaining  B.C. is in a unique position because it kept most retailers open and functioning safely with the COVID safety plans.

“Then we'll be looking at trends, the seven-day rolling average of cases… we'll be looking at hospitalizations, people in ICU, we'll be looking at, you know, the morbidity and mortality, how many people are in hospital, how many people are… passing away from COVID-19.”

And they will also be looking at immunization.

“Immunization does two things. One, it has a personal benefit for me. I'm protected from my own personal health, but it also has a community benefit,” Dr. Henry said.

Then it will be time to envision a post pandemic world, “recognizing that this virus is going to be with us for some time.”

“We don't know how long — likely years — it may be a time where it turns into yet another respiratory virus that doesn't cause severe illness in most people and that's where we hope to get with immunization,” she said.

”Part of our restart plan will be, how do we gradually go back to those important things that we missed in our lives over this past year. How do we do that slowly, recognizing that not everybody's risk tolerance is the same, and we need to get more comfortable with larger numbers doing more things in more places, and there'll be a transition period as we learn as we go over the next little while.”

Dr. Henry said British Columbians can probably look to the UK to figure out how things may play out, as they are several months ahead of Canada both in terms of immunization rates and reopening.

“If you do things too quickly, we know this virus can surge very quickly, even in people who are immunized,” she said. “So we need to look at what we can do personally with a small group of people, once we are all  relatively protected, and then what we can do as a community, whether it's in a workplace (or) it's in having social gatherings.”

She said it's safe to say that larger numbers of people will be able to gather this year. Last summer gatherings got as high as 50, and Dr. Henry said that may again be a good size for a period of time.

“Then we can look at larger numbers,” she said. “More details will be coming, of course, but I think it's important that there is a vision for us getting out of this pandemic and getting back to those important connections in our lives.”

Adding to that, Health Minister Adrian Dix said it’s important to live in the present, as well.

“(There are) still 450 people currently in hospital, 20 people passed away over three days and 150 people are in ICU,” he said. “That means we have to be in the moment… that means following, public health orders, following public health guidance, getting registered and getting vaccinated. If we can do that now, it opens up opportunities later.”

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