The past year has been a blur for a number of reasons. Here is a look back at how the coronavirus made headlines in Greater Victoria, B.C. and around the world during 2020.
Jan. 23 – A viral illness that has caused hundreds of people to get sick, and prompted Chinese authorities to effectively shut down three cities, is not yet a global health emergency, the World Health Organization (WHO) said.
Jan. 24 – Canadians have no need to worry about the prospect of mass quarantines, even in the likely event the coronavirus is discovered here, public health authorities said. At the time, Chinese authorities had extended transportation shutdowns to 13 cities, home to more than 36 million people.
Jan. 25 – Ontario doctors announce Canada’s first “presumptive positive case” of the deadly coronavirus. The case was officially confirmed on Jan. 27.
Jan. 28 – B.C. records its first case of the novel coronavirus.
Jan. 30 – WHO declares the outbreak, which has spread to more than a dozen countries, as a global emergency after the number of cases spiked more than tenfold in a week. Meanwhile, Greater Victoria pharmacies sell out of masks, hand sanitizer.
Feb. 16 – The federal government begins evacuating Canadians from quarantined cruise ships. The Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions warns the federal public health agency’s guidelines to protect frontline health-care workers from outbreaks of diseases like the novel coronavirus don’t go far enough and might be putting them and patients at risk.
March 1 – More than 88,000 people have been infected globally with the death count rising to 3,000. WHO names the illness COVID-19, referring to its origin late last year and the coronavirus that causes it.
March 3 – The new coronavirus may be spreading around the world but there’s no need for British Columbians to clear out grocery stores, a clinical psychologist from the University of B.C. said.
March 9 – B.C. records Canada’s first COVID-19 death. The man, in his 80s, was a resident of the Lynn Valley Care Centre in North Vancouver. And anxiety over the coronavirus epidemic sends global stock markets and oil prices plunging with global oil prices suffering their worst percentage losses since the start of the 1991 Gulf War.
March 11 – Expressing alarm about mounting infections and slow government responses, WHO declares the global coronavirus crisis is now a pandemic. The first COVID-19 case is reported on Vancouver Island, the NBA suspends its season “until further notice” after a Utah Jazz player tests positive and U.S. President Donald Trump suspends travel from Europe to the U.S.
March 13 – Island Health opens a referral-only COVID-19 screening clinic to help support testing for the virus and Canada bans cruise ships with over 500 people from docking until July.
March 16 – B.C. dentists suspend all elective, non-essential dental work and the province bans all gatherings of 50-plus people.
March 18 – Canada-U.S. border closure to non-essential traffic in both directions announced by leaders of both countries.
March 21 – B.C.’s top doctor orders immediate closure of salons, spas and other personal services.
March 24 – The Tokyo Olympics are officially postponed until 2021, ending weeks of speculation.
April 6 – More than half a million people applied for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) on the day applications opened and Greater Victoria survey shows a third of respondents did not pay, or only partially paid rent for April.
April 8 – The B.C. government closes all provincial parks, on the advice of RCMP, local governments and search and rescue organizations about the risks associated with the COVID-19 coronavirus as the Easter weekend approaches.
April 9 – The B.C. government’s temporary rent supplement for people who have lost income due to the COVID-19 pandemic begins taking applications, offering $300 per month for eligible people with no dependents and $500 for those with dependents.
April 10 – The worldwide death toll from the coronavirus surges past 100,000 with the New York area hit hard.
April 14 – Airlines suspend flights until June as sector slammed by COVID-19 and Canada mirrors B.C., giving travellers choice of self-made quarantine plans or hotel stay.
April 21 – Feds unveil $350-million fund to help charities, non-profits get through pandemic
April 23 – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the federal government will spend more than $1 billion to help develop, test and manufacture a COVID-19 vaccine, as well as to determine how widely the virus has spread through Canada.
April 30 – B.C. records 25 new COVID-19 positive tests on Day 100 of the pandemic. In total, the province has seen 2,112 cases and 111 deaths to date.
May 6 – British Columbians who have remained isolated for months can begin to slightly broaden their social circles – to approximately six people – as of mid-May.
May 8 – As health officials work to sort out the particulars around what specific industries and sectors will need to do in order to re-open safely, British Columbians have been given a high-level road map as to what will relaunch, and when.
May 18 – B.C. sees two deaths, 16 new COVID-19 cases over May long weekend on eve of phase two.
May 25 – Vancouver Island hasn’t seen a new homegrown case of COVID-19 in two weeks and payments for CERB top $40 billion as feds open doors for commercial rent help.
June 5 – Vancouver Island has reached a milestone in the fight against the novel coronavirus, becoming the first health region in the province to have no COVID-19 test-positive cases since it touched down here in January.
June 26 – It’s not the graduation they pictured but that doesn’t stop local grads from celebrating.
July 3 – Critical report finds that Canada’s long-term care system failed the country’s elderly, before and during COVID-19 pandemic.
July 10 – B.C. Premier John Horgan says provincial restart plan is gaining ground, with more people leaving their homes and participating in the economy.
July 13 – Indigenous bands along the west coast of British Columbia say their borders will remain closed to tourists and non-residents, despite the economic impact.
July 22 – The B.C. government says it is matching $1 billion in federal government money to address the impacts of COVID-19 and help restart the economy.
July 22 – As B.C. sees a surge in confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus, the province’s top doctor amends the health order for bars and nightclubs, as well as events.
July 27 – New provincial health order limits the number of guests and visitors in short-term vacation rental homes and houseboats.
Aug. 6 – B.C. premier says he was “very disappointed” to hear of abuse being directed at servers at a restaurant in his Langford riding. The guests ignored the six-person per table limit and verbally attacked staff.
Aug. 10 – Laid-off Victoria hotel workers commit to an open-ended hunger strike in hopes of pressuring the government to ensure laid-off workers’ jobs are secured.
Aug. 18 – With cases rising across the province, the Island Health COVID-19 Testing Call Centre experiences high call volumes causing wait times up to 60 or 90 minutes to speak to a nurse or clerk during peak hours.
Aug. 22 – A Victoria resident faces the consequences of hosting a large party amid the COVID-19 pandemic when police issued him a $2,300 ticket for violating health orders in the COVID-19 Related Measures Act.
Sept. 18 – B.C. suspends civil jury trials for a year.
Sept. 23 – Canada’s active COVID-19 cases top 10,000 as daily new cases triple over one month.
Sept. 29 – Transport Canada regulations requiring BC Ferries travellers to leave their vehicles draw controversy, including frustration from B.C. premier.
Oct. 5 – Halloween trick-or-treating allowed, B.C. CDC releases tips for navigating holiday safely
Oct. 11 – As the second wave of the COVID-19 arrives, Canadians are urged to limit the size of their Thanksgiving gatherings or keep them entirely virtual.
Oct. 22 – B.C. records first outbreak at a school
Oct. 25 – Canadian provinces hardest hit by the global COVID-19 pandemic release sobering numbers with Quebec’s overall case count passing the 100,000 mark and Ontario registering more than 1,000 single-day cases
Nov. 9 – Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announces new orders in a special media briefing, including prohibition on all social gatherings outside the household, and a ban on indoor group fitness.
Nov. 9 – Pfizer says an early peek at the data on its coronavirus vaccine suggests the shots may be 90% effective at preventing COVID-19.
Nov. 13 – Flu shots are in high demand across Vancouver Island this fall but many providers are running low, or are completely out of vaccine.
Nov. 24 – B.C.’s mask mandate now backed by provincial enforcement, which means if British Columbians don’t follow the new rule they can be fined $230.
Nov. 27 – Island Health adds Sir James Douglas Elementary to a list of school exposures on the Island, which also include Lakeview Christian School and the Victoria School for Ideal Education.
Nov. 29 – The country’s top doctor asks Canadians to limit their contacts and gatherings as COVID-19 cases continue to surge in several provinces.
Dec. 2 – The Saanich Peninsula Hospital is added to Island Health’s list of COVID-19 outbreaks – the first Greater Victoria hospital to report an outbreak, with 22 positive cases identified, and four fatalities.
Dec. 23 – There have now been a total of 48,027 confirmed cases of the virus in B.C., and 796 deaths.
– With files from the Canadian Press and the Associated Press.
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