Island Health says the number of COVID-19 cases on northern Vancouver Island has risen dramatically in the last week, prompting a rare tweet late Monday afternoon urging people in Campbell River, the Comox Valley, the North Island and West Vancouver Island to be extra vigilant.
“This is really about increased social networking and social activity while people are symptomatic,” said North Island Medical Health Officer Dr. Charmaine Enns. “People meeting to have dinner, it’s out in the back yard, social gatherings, usually on private property.”
The numbers (52 active cases, 343 total in the North Island zone) may not seem significant, but the increase is alarming to health officials.
On Tuesday, there were nine active cases on the North Island. That increased to 20 by Friday, then decreased to 19, then more-than doubled again by Monday when there were 42 active cases.
Eleven more cases were announced Tuesday and one person has recovered.
Enns is urging people not to be fooled despite the numbers still seeming low.
“Let’s not be naive, we’re in a pandemic,” she said. “This is a respiratory virus that spreads through person-to-person droplets. We’re not out the other end of this until we have immunity at a population level from being vaccinated.”
Two of the known cases involve employees at Comox Valley Toyota in Courtenay.
Dealer principal Michael Marchi closed the dealership Monday out of an abundance of caution. It will re-open on Friday.
“I think it’s time to, to absolutely 100 per cent buckle down,” said Marchi. “We need to take direction from the health authorities because they are actually correct. This virus spreads like wild-fire.”
He said all staff is now being tested so the number of cases could go up, adding the dealership had all COVID protocols in place but that maybe people just aren’t taking the virus seriously enough.
“The masks are important but staying apart is the biggest thing you can do to avoid transmission, that’s what I’ve learned through all this.”
The province added another 559 new COVID-19 cases in B.C. on Tuesday, with 39 of those in the Island Health region. There are now 260 active cases in the region.