Skip to main content

A shopper wears a protective face mask outside a Costco store in Burnaby, B.C. Friday, April 3, 2020.JONATHAN HAYWARD/The Canadian Press

British Columbia’s medical health officer says the province seems to be holding its own against COVID-19, which is why officials are so cautious about people returning from other areas of the world.

Dr. Bonnie Henry said Saturday that repatriation flights from India and others are in the works and health officials in B.C. are consulting with federal agencies to determine what will happen with those people.

“I think it’s safe to say we were, we had some concerns that the strength of the response at all of the airports and land border crossings were not strong enough yet. So, we want to look at how we can support the federal agencies in making sure that everybody is aware of the requirements when they come back.”

How can I manage my mental health during the pandemic?

Being worried, even scared, in these circumstances is totally understandable. Looking out for your mental, as well as physical, health is important, but the physical distancing required to protect others from the coronavirus can create a “cocoon” of isolation that makes self-care difficult.

What can you do? We asked experts for advice:

  • Keep a routine: Give yourself structure. Eat healthy, stay active and get plenty of sleep.
  • Keep things in perspective: Remind yourself that most people experience mild illness and this will come to an end. Avoid going down internet rabbit holes.
  • When and where to seek help: Feeling very irritable, snapping at others and having a hard time sleeping are signs you are not able to cope on your own. CAMH and the Canadian Psychological Association have resources to recognize that behaviour and adapt. The Globe also has a guide to what services are available and how to protect your mental health.

How should both employers and employees manage the psychological impact of self-quarantine? One fully remote company shares lessons on staying mentally fit:

  • Communication: Remote teams can’t rely on body language. Any way you can help your staff feel involved and connected organically is a win.
  • Check-ins: There’s enormous value in discussing morale, mental health and social wellness.
  • Social distance – not isolation: Start traditions. Remote teams need things to look forward to and opportunities to connect in stress-free ways.

You can also read The Globe and Mail’s digest of the latest news about COVID-19′s spread around the world and sign up for the Coronavirus Update newsletter.

Henry said people travelling may not be aware of the rapid changes that have taken place because of COVID-19 or that they need to be isolated for 14 days after travel.

She said some B.C. residents who were on a cruise ship that arrived in Florida on Friday have been allowed to return to the province and are self-isolating in their homes.

Three more people died of the virus since Friday for a total of 38. Henry said there were 29 new cases diagnosed in the same time period, bringing the number of cases to 1,203.

Just over 700 people have fully recovered from the virus.

Henry said the lower number of cases diagnosed indicates the curve may be flattening.

“But I am heartened that we are seeing that decrease in acceleration. If we had continued to see that 24, 25 per cent increase, we would have had many, many more cases and that’s very concerning.”

If the numbers hold, that would allow the province to deliver health care for both COVID-19 patients and other ailments that are affecting people, she said.

Henry said B.C. scientists and health experts are working with others around the world to understand the virus.

“There’s some evidence that this coronavirus is behaving like other coronaviruses, which means that when we have increased UV light and warmer temperatures it tends to fade away.”

That would mean it could come back in the fall like many other respiratory viruses, even with all the measures being taken, Henry said.

“The one caveat to that is when a new virus is introduced into a human population, for which we have no immunity, it may not fade away in the ways we would see once it’s been circulating for a while.”

It’s still unclear how COVID-19 might spread in the months ahead, she said.

COVID-19 has been diagnosed in another long-term care facility in the province, bringing the total to 23 care homes affected.

Henry said in all but two of those facilities, the outbreak has been limited to one or two positive cases.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 4, 2020.