An infectious control doctor in Nanaimo says that while individuals can recover from COVID-19 it is still a destructive and deadly disease.
He is also warning that even a low rate of cases in the Nanaimo region will have devastating consequences for the health care system.
“It’s important for people to understand how serious this is and the responsibility we all have to try and reduce the spread of this disease,” said Dr. David Forrest.
In a video posted widely Monday Forrest, who is currently in self-isolation after returning from overseas travel, warns Covid-19 could become a huge problem on central Vancouver Island if just 20 per cent of the population gets infected.
“The burden on our health care system will be massive and overwhelming. We are worse off in Nanaimo because we have only 4.5 ventilator ICU beds per 100,000 people. That’s far less than there are in the rest of the western world,” said Forrest.
The health ministry has cancelled elective surgeries to free up more space and extra equipment is on the way.
“The issue is not ventilators or actual bed space. It’s going to be human resources. Physicians, nurses, respiratory therapists,” said Forrest.
Qualicum Beach’s mayor says he’s seen the doctor’s warning and he’s especially concerned for his community.
“Extremely concerned. I got to be careful how I word this because I don’t want to install a panic but we have the most susceptible community I would say in all of Vancouver Island or all of Canada,” said Brian Wiese.
Qualicum Beach has an average age of 61, the oldest in Canada. Both men are urging everyone to do their part in stopping COVID-19.
“Stay home. We heard it early and people sort of thought I’m immune it’s not going to hurt me. Stay home,” said Wiese.
“Particularly for younger people. They really don’t understand how serious this is because they’re not getting sick and even if they are infected they’re fairly asymptomatic,” said Forrest. “But the real concern is that they are going to spread it to those that are at risk and it’s going to be their parents and grandparents that suffer.”
A warning he says we all need to abide by now.
Earlier this month the head of Nanaimo’s Medical Staff Association called for more health care services to be offered at Nanaimo’s hospital.