Dr. Charmaine Enns, the North Island medical health officer, recently addressed pandemic concerns during an online meeting with parents of schoolchildren. Record file photo

Pandemic response for parents starts with good info, says Enns

Region’s medical health officer meets online with Island parents

The North Island region’s medical health officer understands concerned parents who want to keep their kids home in September due to COVID-19.

Dr. Charmaine Enns, however, wants them to get the best information to make their decision instead of making a choice out of fear.

On Aug. 25, she met online with parents through the Comox Valley District Parent Advisory Council to listen and discuss issues surrounding having students return to classrooms.

“It would be impossible for parents not to have concerns,” she told Black Press. “I really appreciate their questions.”

Enns realizes that when it comes to the pandemic, there is an enormous amount of information – and misinformation –available for people now, and she recommends people visit the BC Centre for Disease Control website for the most up-to-date and accurate information into a public health situation that is multi-faceted, complex and constantly changing.

As B.C. has moved into phase three re-opening, it has been expected for many to feel anxiety, especially with a recent hike in coronavirus numbers, though Enns points out these cases have been associated with social clusters, not community-wide transmission.

“It’s still really low numbers when you look at our whole population,” she added.

Enns emphasized it is important not to focus on the “singular issue” of a positive case but in the balance of other issues such as outcomes like hospitalization rates and recovery rates. For the province as a whole, as of Aug. 27, there were 22 hospitalizations, with 19 in the Fraser Health area and none on the Island. This compares with a peak day of 149 in B.C. in the spring.

“We’re significantly lower than back in March-April,” she said.

A positive test shows the system is working, and she cites the outbreak on Cormorant Island. Thirty cases affected the small community of Alert Bay, but because of public health measures, the situation cleared up in three weeks.

“Those interventions worked,” she said.

RELATED STORY: Alert Bay resident carves tribute to his community kicking COVID-19’s butt

To allay fears, she points out that although the numbers might be rising in B.C., this has not happened in a large way on the Island. Another key point is a routinely low rate of hospitalization, with most people isolating and recovering at home. For health officials and the general public alike, there have been lessons learned along the way since the outbreak of the pandemic.

“This is not February and March. We’re seven, eight months smarter than we were when this started,” she said. “We can’t get stuck on the number. We have to consider the impact of that number.”

Another consideration is that potential contact does not guarantee the onset of the coronavirus. Contacts are not necessarily infectious, Enns said, but simply people who have been exposed and may be incubating the virus.

“Most contacts do not become cases,” she said.

As far as parents being concerned, Enns points to numbers to show the risk remains extremely low. For example, testing between March 5 and Aug. 25 showed of almost 2,000 children with symptoms under 12 tested on Vancouver Island, there were only two positive cases. For 12- to 17-year-olds, more than 1,000 were tested, and only six were positive. Enns added the positive cases would be from household contact.

The key, Enns reiterated, is good information and a continued effort by the public to be diligent when it comes to measures to reduce transmission.

“We can watch you to see if you develop symptoms,” she said. “That stops transmission in its track.”

An important factor now is for public health officials to get good contact follow-up information when someone tests positive to track the potential spread

“What we can do is manage COVID, and one of the most critical functions in our response is case identification and contact follow-up,” she added. “This is critical.”

People should expect the coronavirus will be around for some time, but that means everyone has to continue working to keep transmissions down while, at the same time, moving on with life.

The DPAC discussion with Enns can be found on the Comox Valley DPAC Facebook page.

READ MORE: School advocates hope new federal funding can assist B.C. schools with more flexibility



mike.chouinard@comoxvalleyrecord.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

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

Just Posted

Photographer Eiko Jones, delivered the 11th Annual Haig Brown lecture at Tidemark Theatre

Jones also screened his newly completed movie Heartbeat of the River at the event

B.C. salmon farms challenge activists’ demands for site closures

News reporting also unfair, inaccurate and distorted

Float-plane crash near Oyster River leaves pilot injured

The plane crashed shortly after take-off from a private property and had no other passengers on board

Follow the frog: Greenways Loop signed for Go By Bike event

On Oct. 3, dress in green and get out on the newly-signed Greenways Loop

NDP solution to homelessness is to ‘warehouse’ people: BC Liberal leader

Andrew Wilkinson made a campaign stop in Campbell River and was asked about homelessness

105 new COVID-19 cases, 1 death as health officials urge B.C. to remember safety protocols

There are currently 1268 active cases, with 3,337 people under public health monitoring

B.C. nurses report rise in depression, anxiety, exhaustion due to pandemic

A new UBC study looks into how the COVID-19 response has impacted frontline nurses

National child-care plan could help Canada rebound from COVID-induced economic crisis: prof

A $2 billion investment this year could help parents during second wave of pandemic

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Search suspended for Indigenous elder last seen mushroom picking in northwest B.C.

Mushroom picker Thomas (Tommy) Dennis has been missing since Sept. 16

16 MLAs retiring from B.C. politics add up to $20M in pensions: Taxpayers Federation

Taxpayers pay $4 for every dollar MLAs contribute to their pensions

‘Bonnie’ and ‘Henry’ among latest litter of service dog puppies

B.C. Alberta Guide Dogs names two pups after provincial health officer

Most Read