Island Health’s chief medical health officer says the province should look at tightening up travel restrictions to Vancouver Island, including a 14-day isolation period for non-essential travelers.
“I can tell you that I’ve raised this issue about looking about what the Maritimes have been able to accomplish by creating — I wouldn’t say an impediment to travel — but people who choose to come are expected to spend a 14-day isolation period,” Stanwick said.
“When we are fighting COVID we need to look at every option.”
Stanwick said the decision is up to provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and the province.
On Nov. 7, the province announced a public health order that said residents need to avoid non-essential travel into and out of the Lower Mainland and the Fraser Valley. The order is in effect until Nov. 23, but will likely be extended on Thursday.
The Maritime provinces have created their own bubble where non-essential visitors must quarantine for 14 days upon arrival.
Tofino and Ucluelet, two popular tourist destinations on Vancouver Island, have asked travellers to stay away amid the current surge of COVID-19 cases in Metro Vancouver.
Ucluelet Mayor Mayco Noel said anyone who has booked a place in the community should call and reschedule.
“If you are from the Mainland, you need to stay on the Mainland and not because we are being self-righteous here,” Noel said.
“We are just saying you are deemed being in the red zone and you need to follow it.”
Island Health, the health authority that covers Vancouver Island, has seen fewer COVID-19 cases than regions such as Fraser Health, Vancouver Coastal Health and Interior Health.
However, Island Health has seen the number of new cases rise from an average of three to six a day to about 20 a day.
Stanwick said contacts are doubling among those who have tested positive for the coronavirus and contact tracers believe many of the cases are linked to islanders having social gatherings indoors with someone who came from Metro Vancouver.
“It may not sound like a lot but it more likely offers the possibility of community spread of the virus of other islanders,” Stanwick said.
“We are following in the footsteps of what is happening on the Lower Mainland.”
There are currently two COVID-19 patients on the Island in intensive care. Stanwick said the health authority went months with no one in hospital with COVID-19.
“The question is, is it too late? Do we need just to hunker down?” Stanwick said.
–with files from Emily Lazatin and Jon Azpiri