A woman with a mask on walks across View Street in Victoria. As of May 22, Vancouver Island has seen only one new case of COVID-19 in two weeks. (Arnold Lim / Black Press)

A woman with a mask on walks across View Street in Victoria. As of May 22, Vancouver Island has seen only one new case of COVID-19 in two weeks. (Arnold Lim / Black Press)

Vancouver Island hasn’t seen a new homegrown case of COVID-19 in two weeks

Island’s low and steady transmission rate chalked up to several factors

Experts say that geography, demographics and strategy are all contributing factors in the success – thus far – of Vancouver Island in fighting the transmission of COVID-19.

On Vancouver Island, new cases of COVID-19 were stagnant for two weeks in late May, rising only by one new case on May 22. With only two active cases and the lowest cumulative incidence per 100,000 population across all the province’s health regions, Vancouver Island appears well poised for phase two of the B.C. restart plan.

On the Island, the new case reported Friday was a person associated with the Kearl Lake outbreak “who completed their self-isolation in Alberta and has since recovered,” a statement from Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix noted.

“People within Vancouver Island have done an exceptional job in flattening the curve,” Island Health Chief Medical Officer Richard Stanwick told Black Press Media. “We have not had any additional COVID-19 test positive cases in approximately two weeks and it appears the virus is not circulating widely on the Island right now. The people who have had the virus are recovering, so that’s really good news.”

As of the morning of May 25, the region has confirmed 127 cases and has seen 121 people recover from the virus. Five people have died, and though 25 have been hospitalized, only one person remains in hospital care. The number of cases sat at 126 from May 7 – a data correction on May 14 clarified earlier reported numbers – until May 25.

READ ALSO: Still no COVID-19 cases at Island Health long-term care facilities

Stanwick notes that the lack of outbreaks in long-term care facilities is “one of the most encouraging signs that the measures we’re taking continue to work.”

Elizabeth Borycki, professor of health information at the University of Victoria, says geography is one piece of the transmission rate.

“We are geographically isolated, we are on an island, but prior to COVID-19, we had an international airport and we received a lot of traffic by ship and even through the various ferry systems,” she said. “What we have is a group of individuals that care and understand what the provincial public health officer has said since it became part of their daily lives.”

Borycki suggests the Island, by keeping transmission low, thus far, is feedback for the provincial strategy.

“We’re all listening and achieving the affects that are needed,” she said. “And we’re protecting people as a result.”

RELATED: COVID-19 cases next to nil on Vancouver Island

Frederick Grouzet, UVic professor of psychology, speculates that for British Columbians, health authorities are seen as being more separate from the provincial government, possibly offering a bipartisan edge to regional messaging.

“The health authorities are quite independent from the government, and that contributes to the trust,” he says. “And the message is always based on strong evidence. They are explaining why we are doing what we are doing. And so people can make sense of it very quickly and then after that, adopt the proper behaviour.”

According to Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, a second wave is inevitable. Stanwick encourages Islanders’ to stick to what’s worked so far.

“It’s important that people don’t let down their guard and that we are mindful the situation could rapidly change,” Stanwick said. “That’s why it’s critical we continue to take precautions to protect ourselves and our loved ones by physical distancing, washing our hands regularly and practising good cough etiquette.”

READ ALSO: Nanaimo, Royal Jubilee to be Vancouver Island’s COVID-19 frontline hospitals



nina.grossman@blackpress.ca

Follow us on Instagram
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

CoronavirusIsland Health

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

FILE – Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs have agreed to sign a memorandum on rights and title with B.C. and Ottawa, but elected chiefs are demanding it be called off over lack of consultation. (Thom Barker photo)
Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs, Lake Babine Nation get provincial funding for land, title rights

Government says it’s a new, flexible model for future agreements between Canada, B.C. and First Nations.

Kieran Christison, manager of Daybreak Farms in Terrace inspects eggs on Oct. 30, 2020. Christison wants to transition to a zero waste, cage-free facility. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Daybreak Farms aiming to achieve zero-waste, cage-free facility

Kieran Christison, manager, presented the farm’s future plans to Terrace city council

Mercedes Trigo, assistant manager, said that Trigo’s Lifestyle Store in Terrace has experienced four broken windows and an attempted break-in recently, leaving her feeling unsupported by bystanders and the police. (Ben Bogstie/Terrace Standard)
Trigo’s management frustrated by property damage, theft

In a little over a month there have been four broken windows and an attempted break-in at the store

Two RCMP officers have been recognized for their actions in responding to an incident involving a man with a weapon at 4501 Park Ave. on the afternoon of April 27, 2020. RCMP say it was an isolated incident and there is no danger to the general public. (Jake Wray photo)
Terrace RCMP officers recognized for acts of bravery

Two involved in arrest of armed suspect

Vancouver resident Beryl Pye was witness to a “concerning,” spontaneous dance party that spread throughout social groups at Kitsilano Beach on April 16. (Screen grab/Beryl Pye)
VIDEO: Dance party erupts at Vancouver’s Kitsilano Beach to the dismay of onlookers

‘It was a complete disregard for current COVID-19 public health orders,’ says Vancouver resident Beryl Pye

A syringe is loaded with COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to open up COVID vaccine registration to all B.C. residents 18+ in April

Registration does not equate to being able to book an appointment

(Black Press file photo).
Multiple stabbings at Vancouver Island bush party

Three youths hospitalized after an assault in Comox

Selina Robinson is shown in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday November 17, 2017. British Columbia’s finance minister says her professional training as a family therapist helped her develop the New Democrat government’s first budget during the COVID-19 pandemic, which she will table Tuesday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. finance minister to table historic pandemic-challenged deficit budget

Budget aims to take care of people during pandemic while preparing for post-COVID-19 recovery, Robinson said

Each spring, the Okanagan Fest-of-Ale is held in Penticton. This year, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the festival will not be held. However, beer is still available. How much do you know about this beverage? (pxfuel.com)
QUIZ: How much do you really know about beer?

Put your knowledge to the test with this short quiz

Lord Tweedsmuir’s Tremmel States-Jones jumps a player and the goal line to score a touchdown against the Kelowna Owls in 2019. The face of high school football, along with a majority of other high school sports, could significantly change if a new governance proposal is passed at the B.C. School Sports AGM May 1. (Malin Jordan)
Power struggle: New governance model proposed for B.C. high school sports

Most commissions are against the new model, but B.C. School Sports (BCSS) and its board is in favour

Pall Bearers carrying the coffin of the Duke of Edinburgh, followed by the Prince of Wales, left and Princess Anne, right, into St George’s Chapel for his funeral, at Windsor Castle, in Windsor, England, Saturday April 17, 2021. (Danny Lawson/Pool via AP)
Trudeau announces $200K donation to Duke of Edinburgh award as Prince Philip laid to rest

A tribute to the late prince’s ‘remarkable life and his selfless service,’ the Prime Minister said Saturday

B.C. homeowners are being urged to take steps to prepare for the possibility of a flood by moving equipment and other assets to higher ground. (J.R. Rardon)
‘Entire province faces risk’: B.C. citizens urged to prepare for above-average spring flooding

Larger-than-normal melting snowpack poses a threat to the province as warmer weather touches down

Vancouver-based Doubleview Gold Corp. is developing claims in an area north of Telegraph Creek that occupies an important place in Tahltan oral histories, said Chad Norman Day, president of the Tahltan Central Government. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO)
B.C. Indigenous nation opposes mineral exploration in culturally sensitive area

There’s “no way” the Tahltan would ever support a mine there, says Chad Norman Day, president of its central government

Most Read