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.

Just Posted

Vancouver Island dance classes billed as female empowerment tool

New Comox Valley business focuses on ‘promoting positive body image’

Restored boat on display in Sointula, honouring the past

A 34-foot gillnet fishing boat built on Malcolm Island in 1948 is the newest museum addition

Langford racing enthusiast back in driver’s seat of life after surviving aggressive cancer

70-year-old David Smith finishes mid-pack in Canada 200 race at Western Speedway

Duncan family overwhelmed with 14 puppies

Chocolate lab litter may be one of the biggest ever

B.C. records 98 more COVID-19 cases, most in Lower Mainland

One new senior home outbreak, Surrey Memorial outbreak over

Police seek ‘high-risk sex offender’ last seen in Victoria

Scott Jones is wanted on a Canada-wide warrant for being ‘unlawfully at large’

Ride-hailing service nearly ready to start up in Nanaimo

Lucky to Go planning to launch Oct. 1

Three Vancouver Island photographers place in BC SPCA 2020 Wild-in-Focus photography contest

Out of 956+ submissions province wide, both winners place in separate categories

Victoria gets new collegiate baseball team, training facility

Golden Tide coach wants to see as many local kids play for the HarbourCats as possible

Hospice worker and patient butt heads in upcoming Nanaimo theatre production

Yellow Point Drama Group presents ‘Grace and Glorie’ at Cedar Community Hall

97 distressed horses, cats and dogs seized from farm in Princeton

RCMP assisted as BC SPCA executed search warrant

Most Read