“The optimist in me would like to think that maybe he will go away and the virus will mutate and not get worse,” said Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health worker, in an interview with Matt Galloway, host from CBC Radio’s. The stream.
” But you know what? We’ve never had a pandemic in recorded history that hasn’t had a second wave. “
Henry, who was at the forefront of the country’s SARS epidemic from 2002 to 2003, led British Columbia’s response to the coronavirus epidemic. She was praised for her response to the pandemic which succeeded in smoothing the curve in front of many other regions.
BEFORE CHRIST. was the second province with a confirmed case of COVID-19, and with strict physical distancing measures, new infections and hospitalizations have steadily declined.
Tuesday, the province entered the second phase of its response to the pandemic with many businesses and public spaces, including restaurants and beaches reopening with restrictions.
“Now is the time to come together, learn as much as possible in the weeks and months to come, and prepare,” said Henry.
WATCH | “We’re not going to do everything right,” says Henry:
Testing and tracking contacts is essential
As the country slowly reopens, Henry said tests will continue to be crucial, especially when the flu returns in the fall.
“We need to be able to understand the difference between flu and COVID, and we will have to have tests in place to quickly expand our tests if necessary,” she said, adding that contact tracing for diagnosed cases will also play a role.
However, Henry rejected the idea of COVID-19 monitoring systems, such as those launched in China and Hong Kong, arguing that they “are probably not very useful”.
“This individual public health survey is extremely important, so if there is [are] some apps that help us do it more efficiently, that’s what we’re looking for. ”
With the potential for a second wave, Henry said in British Columbia. is already thinking about what measures could come back – without taking another hit on the economy.
“What I hope we can do is create a level of security so that we can run our economy, our schools, our work – but not at the level we were in December [before the virus], ” she said.
“We are going to see what measures have worked best to prevent transmission, and if we start to see increases in COVID, these are the things that we can put in place rather than just closing everything as we have done before. ”
BEFORE CHRIST. schools will reopen in June
The most effective measures will be tested when the provincial economy reopens and from June 1, students can return voluntarily to classrooms.
“We want to make sure that there is not a long period of time when [students] not have this direct contact, but we have to do it in a safe way, “said Henry.
While schools have remained open throughout the pandemic for some students, including the children of essential workers, they will now be open to everyone.
WATCH | BEFORE CHRIST. schools will reopen part-time in June:
When they reopen next month, the class sizes will be small and students will stay with a teacher for the whole day.
Several provinces have already announced plans to keep students at home until at least the fall. Henry said British Columbia’s blueprint for schools is what students across the country can expect for the next school year.
“We are going to learn from the experience we have in June to make sure that we have things that work for both staff and educators … as well as for students and family,” she said.
Caring for the elderly “part of our entire health system”
However, changes in other areas, including elderly care, will be more distant.
Long-term care homes, which have seen outbreaks across the country, remain closed to parents of residents of the province.
“As soon as we think it’s safe, we will allow family members to enter, but it will not be the same way,” she said. “We cannot live these group experiences at the moment and probably for several weeks or months. “
Asked if the pandemic would lead to an assessment of how elderly care is managed in this country, Henry said that she had highlighted “challenges” that public health had “long recognized”. It included annual flu epidemics and a precarious workforce among the challenges.
“All of these highlight the vulnerabilities that a virus like a virus can cause when it enters a care home and we don’t have these essentials in place that support people,” she said. .
“I hope we are going to change the way we think about caring for homes for the aged.”
Henry said that while the role of the federal government in long-term care needs to be “worked out”, there is “a rationale for caring for the elderly – especially in the long-term care homes we have – are part of our whole. health care system. “
Be nice, be safe
Throughout the pandemic, Henry encouraged British Columbians to “be kind, calm and safe.”
“It may sound cheesy, but I believe that kindness and support and collaboration are what will get us through it, especially things that will last as long as an epidemic like this,” he said. she declared.
WATCH | Henry worried about families and health workers affected by the coronavirus:
A return to life prior to COVID-19 is still a long way off, she said, explaining to Galloway that “the types of contact, the things we did in December” could stay out of reach until a vaccine is developed.
But Henry hopes that some of the positive changes resulting from the pandemic will continue well beyond COVID-19.
“There are new ways to approach things … the fact that we have to wash our hands regularly and the fact that we have to keep people safe, especially if we feel bad about ourselves … and how can we help people stay home from work if they are sick? ” she said.
“These are things that I hope will not change. “
Written by Jason Vermes. Produced by Idella Sturino and John Chipman.