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British Columbia, Jun 23 (Canadian-Media): British Columbia (B.C.) has been praised by officials and health experts in its flattening the curve of COVID-19 related death ahead of other regions, media reports said.
Provincial Health care Authorities of BC. Twitter handle
During mid-March, there had been a rapid surge in the COVID-19 outbreak in multiple long-term care homes, and there was a probability of B.C. being hit particularly hard by the global pandemic.
However, in the months that followed, the province was able to achieve flattening of the curve ahead of other regions.
As a result, B.C. reported COVID-19 related death rates of approximately 33 deaths per million people, which is one of the lowest among Jurisdictions in Canada, the U.S. and western Europe with populations of five million or more.
The current COVID death rate in the province is approximately 33 deaths per million people — one of the lowest among large jurisdictions in Canada, the U.S., and western Europe.
Officials and health experts credit their success to a combination of sound decision-making and good fortune.
B.C.'s timely and sound decisions and good fortune have been credited by B.C.'s officials and health experts.
For example, B.C. was fortunate in its timing of March break, which began on March 16.
Quebec announced its spring break at the start of the month.
B.C. health officials at that time were already advising Canadians to cancel all non-essential trips out of the country.
But such measures were not taken in Quebec and thousands of Quebeckers drove into the United States and flew to Europe and the Caribbean on holiday.
Florida had declared a public health emergency on March 1 while Quebeckers were away and on March 7 New York also declared a public health emergency as Quebeckers started to head home.
On March 11, when Quebec students had already been back at school for two days, the World Health Organization declared a global pandemic. On March 13, after four days of classes, the province closed schools and the federal government advised against non-essential travel outside Canada.
But by this time the outbreak of Coronavirus has increased in Quebec.
Ontario, which had a March break at the same time as B.C. presented a different scenario.
Premier Doug Ford on March 12 told a press conference: "I just want the families and their children to have a good time. Go away, have a good time, enjoy yourselves, and we're going to be monitoring the situation."
The government announced the same day that schools would be closed for two weeks following the break.
Beyond the timing of holiday travel, public-health experts say the close co-ordination between the B.C.'s health authorities, as well as its management of long-term care homes, were factors in reducing transmission.
In the beginning, health-care workers were on the lookout for the typical cough and fever, but Schwandt said that by mid-March, the health region's testing strategy for care facilities was much broader and included testing people who were dizzy, confused and had unexplained falls.
On March 27, the province issued an order to limit the movement of staff between care homes and announced that wages would be standardized so workers who typically do shifts at multiple facilities wouldn't face financial hardship. The province estimates that move is costing about $10 million a month.
While B.C.'s order came about three weeks ahead of Ontario's decision to restrict staff movement, it still took months to implement as care-homes had to sort out staffing schedules and wage structures.
This fact had led to the spreading of the COVID-19 pandemic from one long term care to another.
Gradually over the past two and a half months, B.C's 501 care facilities have moved to single-site staffing, with the process completed June 18.
B.C. was also among the provinces that weren't dependent on the federal procurement program for personal protective equipment but were able to source and import gloves, masks, gowns, and respirators through its own supply-chain management system.
Throughout the public-health emergency, Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.'s Provincial Health Officer has been out front, updating the public on provincial transmission, as well as closures, restrictions, and other safety precautions.
Colin Furness, an infection control epidemiologist at the University of Toronto. said that it has helped instill confidence and credibility in B.C.
"If I could put us in a time machine, and I could send Ontario back to early March, I would have an effective expert owning the podium and doing the communication,'' he said, referring to the fact that Ontario's premier has handled the majority of the briefings in his province, reported by CBC on June 22.