Over the last year, the health unit has routinely tweeted out new cases, along with detailed information about those cases, such as age, gender and mode of transmission.
On Tuesday, the health unit said it would no longer be offering that service, and asked that those interested in daily case counts refer to its COVID-19 dashboard, or the province’s daily case information.
Following some backlash, Dr. Hugh Guan, the outgoing acting medical officer of health, said the health unit may still post case counts to Twitter, but those tweets will lack the detail currently included in the updates.
“We continue to update the dashboard daily and we’ll continue to see what we can do on the Twittersphere. It might be more of a simplified information. But we are just streamlining information there. So it’s not completely stopping reporting. We’re just changing the format a little bit,” Guan said.
The health unit’s official Twitter account noted that the change was being made partly because the COVID-19 pandemic is now being transitioned to an endemic.
A pandemic is an outbreak of disease that affects the whole world, while an endemic refers to a disease or virus regularly found among a group of people, such as the flu.
Guan says the move away from reporting on Twitter, when there is already reporting on the local and provincial dashboard, will streamline the process and avoid duplication of information. Those who want to access the information will be able to do so on the proper channels, while taking some of the attention away from the virus on people’s daily social feeds.
“Even New Zealand has kind of gone away from COVID zero. So part of the discussions that are going on is that we need to find that right balance,” he said.
Guan noted that this was not a directive from the province, but was prompted by changes in how the province reports its numbers. He did not explain what those changes were.
Finally, he said the team will be choosing a time each day where the COVID-19 numbers will be updated on the local dashboard, so those who want to know can check the details regularly. That time has not been set.
This was Guan’s last media briefing as acting medical officer of health. Dr. Piotr Oglaza, the former top doctor at Hastings Prince Edward Public Health, takes up the job on Monday.
Still, Guan says he will remain as associate medical officer of health, and will be working closely with Oglaza throughout his transition into the position.
The health unit reported seven new cases Wednesday, with active cases landing at 41.