This is why people are no longer dying from COVID-19 in British Columbia
As of Thursday afternoon at 3 p.m., the province of British Columbia reported its sixth straight day with no new deaths from COVID-19 — something that has yet to happen for even one day in Ontario and Quebec.
And while they were the first province in the country to have a case of the virus earlier this year, they've recorded only 167 deaths and 2,694 cases to date, 183 of which are still active.
• 14 new cases of COVID-19 for over the past 24 hours, for a total of 2,694 cases in BC.— BC Government News (@BCGovNews) June 12, 2020
• 183 active cases of COVID-19 and 2,344 people who have recovered.
• No new COVID-19 related deaths, for a total of 167 deaths. +
Many have called the province's response to the pandemic the most successful in the country thus far — so how did they do it?
Experts have tried to understand how this happened, and the theories range from early testing, to clear messaging, to early travel restrictions, to luck.
Back in April, when B.C. had already began achieving success in the face of COVID-19, Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Bonnie Henry told reporters her thoughts on why things were going so well.
"Part of it was our early testing strategy, having a very wide net for testing, part of it is preparedness, part of it is timing," she said. "Part of it is, frankly, luck."
Dr. Henry first advised against travelling on March 12, which was earlier than other provinces. She also asked returning travellers to self-quarantine for 14 days on that date, and she made it clear that schools would all be closed following March break.
She was firm in her messaging and decisions since the beginning, and her experiencing working as part of the SARS response in Toronto, on the Ebola crisis in West Africa and co-authoring Canada's pandemic preparedness plan are all thought to have played a role.
There is little doubt that is has been Dr. Henry's leadership that has contributed heavily to BC's success to date in managing COVID. This does not mean we can get complacent. Rather, that we continue following Dr. Henry's sound advice. https://t.co/ixklBRtYkk— NNPBC (@nnp_bc) June 5, 2020
Many think early, aggressive testing is one of the top reasons for the province's success, as they managed to turn testing results around in 24 hours and avoid a testing backlog "by sourcing key chemical reagents for test kits within the province," Stephen Hoption Cann, a public health professor at the University of British Columbia, told Reuters in early April.
They also moved quickly to address issues in long-term care homes, which have been the epicentre of other provincial outbreaks.
‘A coordinated approach to public health’ - Dr Bonnie Henry emphasizes this repeatedly as she reflects on success in British Columbia with respect to Covid-19 - BC also moved very quickly to address long term care. pic.twitter.com/pDYQOVv96g— Jennifer Kitts (@jennifer_kitts) June 5, 2020
"They took decisive action, did it early without hesitation and communicated effectively," Colin Furness, an infection control epidemiologist in Toronto, told the New York Times last week. "People listened to her."
But while B.C. has undoubtedly had more success in its handling of the virus compared to other Canadian provinces, the pandemic isn't over yet.
Jason Kindrachuk, a virologist and assistant professor at the University of Manitoba, told Maclean's that it will likely only be possible to really know what other factors — such as weather or even a population's tendency to do more outdoor activities — have played a role in each province's COVID-19 response once the global health crisis is truly over.
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