People take in the sunset at English Bay Beach, in Vancouver, on Saturday, March 21, 2020. The City of Vancouver asked those coming to the park and beach to maintain a distance of two metres between one another due to concerns about the spread of the coronavirus. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Doctors of B.C. urged to stand behind official messaging, as some say response is lacking

Social distancing measures are key, CEO Dr. Kathleen Ross says

Just a day after more than 200 doctors signed a letter asking B.C. health officials to do more about COVID-19, another group is asking them to fall in line.

A letter, sent to members Sunday by Doctors of B.C. president Dr. Kathleen Ross, urged them to “amplify Dr. [Bonnie] Henry’s message.”

The letter appears to be in counter to one sent by Fraser Health doctors Saturday, which urged Henry, the provincial health officer, to take more decisive action.

“We need to act now to prevent a catastrophic number of preventable deaths,” the doctors’ letter said. “At our current rate of spread, our hospitals will become overwhelmed within a few weeks… we need to do more.”

The situation has changed quickly in B.C., which has recorded at least 426 cases of COVID-19 and as of Sunday, still had half of the country’s 10 deaths. Many of those are associated with an outbreak at a care home in North Vancouver.

In the past couple of weeks, B.C. officials have suspended schools, closed all sit-down restaurants and all bars who cannot switch to takeout, as well as beauty salons and banned gatherings of 50 or more people. Both provincial and national parks have also been shut down. However, there has been a growing murmur on social media that not enough is being done.

Photos and videos of people not socially distancing, or not staying at least two metres away from others, have sparked ire and the hashtag #COVIDIOTS.

In her letter, Ross urged doctors to email their patients to make sure they were getting Henry’s message.

“As physicians it is crucial that we are united in providing the public with clear guidance. During these times of crisis, adhering to the public health direction as the single source of truth is imperative,” she said. “The truth is that self-isolation and maintaining social distance will save lives.”

READ MORE: ‘We need to do more’: Fraser Health doctors send dire letter to Dr. Bonnie Henry

Editor’s note: A previous version of this story called Dr. Kathleen Ross the CEO of Doctors of B.C. Ross is the president, not the CEO.


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katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

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