Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps said the City is stepping up in response to COVID-19 health concerns after the province’s health officer confirmed the Island’s first case of the novel coronavirus.
“I want to assure all Victoria residents and visitors that we are taking this issue seriously and are in communication with provincial health officials regarding standards and protocols,” Helps said in a statement.
She said proper hand washing protocols have been recommended to City staff and that they are being directed to stay home if they feel unwell. Helps said she urges Victorians to follow the same best practice.
Cleaning protocols at Crystal Pool and other city facilities have also been “stepped up” and no city events or programs — including council meetings — have been cancelled or rescheduled. City services can also be accessed online.
In the statement, Helps said all city facilities are open as usual but the public health direction continues to be assessed as new information becomes available.
On Wednesday, B.C. health officials identified seven more cases of COVID-19, including the first case on Vancouver Island – a man in his 60s who was with a tour group to Egypt where another traveller was identified Tuesday as having the novel coronavirus. Another new case is a man in his 70s who lives in Egypt and is visiting the Fraser Health region.
Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said the new cases indicate a need for people to take care if they have cough, fever or other respiratory symptoms, as well as to avoid social gatherings.
“We must all step up our social distancing,” Hentry said. “This is not forever, it is for the coming weeks.”
Helps said she recommends everyone continues to follow the Province’s advice.
“My thanks to Dr. Bonnie Hentry for her calm leadership,” Helps said.
The new cases bring the B.C. total to 46. The World Health Organization declared COVID-19 to be a pandemic Wednesday, with more than 100,000 people infected and Iran and Italy the current front lines of new cases.
–With files from Tom Fletcher