This undated electron microscope image made available by the U.S. National Institutes of Health in February 2020 shows the Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. Also known as 2019-nCoV, the virus causes COVID-19. The sample was isolated from a patient in the U.S. (NIAID-RML via AP)

Coronavirus risk on Vancouver Island remains low, but caution urged

Coronavirus updates issued by Parksville, Qualicum Beach, School District 69

The first death in Canada from COVID-19 was reported at a B.C. care home on March 9, and the outbreak of the coronavirus continues to spread.

Risk on Vancouver Island, where there are no known cases, is currently low, but local bodies are putting out notices on how to stay safe.

• School District 69, the town of Qualicum Beach and the City of Parksville have all issued releases offering tips for local residents. They include:

• Avoiding close contact;

• Staying home when you are sick;

• Covering your mouth and nose (cough into your elbow);

• Avoiding touching your eyes, nose or mouth;

• Cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces;

• Practising good health habits (sleep, drink water, etc.); and practice good hand hygiene by washing your hands well and frequently and/or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

Further information on plans from the various organizations:

School District 69

The outbreak of COVID-19 Novel Coronavirus continues to spread around the world, including here in North America. We remain vigilant and will continue to take our lead from the Vancouver Island Health Authority and the Provincial Health Officer (PHO).

Our approach to date has been to ensure that, as with flu season every year, we remind staff, students and volunteers of the importance of standard precautions.

We are also prepared to do higher levels of cleaning and disinfecting as and when the need arises.

In terms of travel, while we are told that the risk of transmission of COVID-19 in British Columbia still remains low, we know that there is cause for concern in other parts of the world.

Accordingly, we have canceled our scheduled student trips abroad, including to Japan, Europe and even Seattle. If you are travelling during the upcoming spring break we encourage you to check health-related travel notices at

At present, the Provincial Health Services Authority and the Provincial Health Officer do not recommend school closure strategies for the prevention of COVID-19.

The recommended approach is proper hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette. To encourage proactive hygiene practice, the school district has ensured adequate supplies of hand sanitizer, soap, tissues and paper towel at all of our school sites.

As a reminder, any student, staff or volunteer working in schools who may be concerned that they have been exposed to or are experiencing symptoms of the coronavirus, contact your primary care provider or local public health unit, or call 811 (HealthLink BC). We encourage all families and our staff to monitor the situation and gather as much information as necessary to make important decisions for your family, your home and your workplace. We will continue to take guidance from health authorities and post updates on the School District 69 website as we receive them.

READ MORE: B.C. care providers say masks, medical supplies ‘drying up’ due to COVID-19 concerns

City of Parksville

As the lead agencies in British Columbia, the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) and the B.C. Ministry of Health are closely monitoring the situation and will provide guidance. As a support agency, the City of Parksville, similar to other local governments, will respond to and distribute accurate information to residents on behalf of the BCCDC and the Ministry of Health. The City will follow the advice and guidance of Island Health, which has the expertise to assess the level of risk posed by pandemic influenza such as the coronavirus.

Within a COVID-19 pandemic situation, the city’s main role is to protect staff so healthy employees can continue to provide and maintain service levels for our residents. The city has pandemic influenza policies as well as a communications strategy should it be necessary and plans are in place and will be activated should an outbreak of COVID-19 or any other disease be declared in British Columbia.

READ MORE: VIDEO: B.C. records first COVID-19 death in Canada as province hits 32 cases

Town of Qualicum Beach

The Town will follow the advice and guidance of Island Health, which has the expertise to assess the level of risk posed by a pandemic influenza such as the coronavirus.

In the event of a COVID-19 pandemic situation, the Town’s main role is to protect staff, so healthy employees can continue to provide and maintain service levels for our residents. The Town has plans in place that will be activated should an outbreak of COVID-19 be declared.

NOTE: Udutu, a Victoria-based company is offering a free online tutorial to educate people about COVID-19 including what it is, what you should do to prevent getting it, and what to do if you think you have it. For more information, click here.

— NEWS Staff

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