Medical health officer comments on COVID-19 cases in Powell River region

Dr. Mark Lysyshyn discusses recent transmissions in an interview with the Peak

Powell River’s incidence of COVID-19 cases is reflective of what is being seen throughout the health region, according to Dr. Mark Lysyshyn, Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) deputy chief medical health officer.

Lysyshyn said the point VCH wants to make is that what is being seen in Powell River is not different from anywhere else.

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“There seems to be an idea there that there is some big outbreak there or something happening but we don’t regard what is happening there as any different than what we are seeing anywhere else,” said Lysyshyn. “We are seeing this type of transmission literally everywhere. It’s not a special case that’s happening in Powell River. We want people to understand that.”

He said he does not regard what is happening in Powell River as an outbreak. It’s an example of the kind of community transmission that occurs across the region.

“We want people to be aware there are cases around Powell River and there will continue to be; what is happening there is not unexpected,” said Lysyshyn. “People really want to know the number. They want to know everything and that’s the challenge that we face. We are not permitted to give the numbers just because people want to know them. That’s not enough of a rationale to breach medical confidentiality. That’s the challenge that we are in.”

Lysyshyn said VCH had given a ballpark number this time just because VCH felt there was a lot of concern in the community.

“In general, we’re not doing this sort of reporting,” he added. “The reporting we are doing is on the BCCDC website, and that is how every community is finding out about their numbers. There’s a lot of concern in the community [Powell River] around this and maybe some misunderstanding of what was happening and so we put this out.”

Lysyshyn was referring to a letter from VCH that has been widely distributed, citing nearly 30 cases of COVID-19 in the Powell River region.

The near-30 cases in the Powell River region was meant to be an inclusive figure, according to Lysyshyn, outlining the cases in Tla’amin Nation and the Powell River region. He said VCH provides the numbers to the First Nations Health Authority and then they have a relationship with the nations whereby they may or may not share information.

“There are various problems with that data,” said Lysyshyn. “The numbers they are posting are not necessarily accurate. They are probably not grossly inaccurate but there are issues with the data.

“It can be a little bit difficult for us to determine who should be counted there and who should be counted outside. That’s why we don’t want to put too much stock in the numbers. It is true to say there are around 30 cases in the region. Some of them are associated with Tla’amin Nation and some of them are not, although all of the cases are related.”

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