With the community COVID-19 vaccination clinic being held in Prince Rupert during the week of the first anniversary of pandemic lockdown and many residents feeling it is a light at the end of a dark tunnel, The Northern View looks back on the year that changed all of our lives.
In December, the world learned of the first known person to show symptoms of the then un-named virus.
British Columbia residents heard of the first presumptive case of the novel coronavirus in a B.C. man recently returned from China.
The virus was declared an ‘outbreak’ by the Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) and it was categorized as WHO’s highest level of alarm as a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC). Ninety-eight cases outside of China were confirmed. Four countries had evidence of person-to-person-transmission.
WHO issued the coronavirus the name of COVID-19 – Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2.
The world was warned by WHO that “much of the global community is not yet ready, in mindset and materially, to implement the measures that have been employed to contain COVID-19 in China”.
A WHO mission to China stressed that “to reduce COVID-19 illness and death, near-term readiness planning must embrace the large-scale implementation of high-quality, non-pharmaceutical public health measures”, such as case detection and isolation, contact tracing and monitoring/quarantining and community engagement.”
British Columbia announced the first case of COVID-19 transmission not related to travel. A Lynn Valley Health Care resident was B.C’s first fatality related to COVID-19. Provincial health officials discourage all non-essential travel and two-week isolation period for those returning from overseas was announced. Europe was declared the epi-centre of the pandemic with more reported cases than the rest of the world.
B.C. health officials postponed non-essential surgeries in hope of preventing a surge. Events with more than 50 people such as indoor, outdoor sporting events conferences, meetings and religious gatherings are banned. Bars and nightclubs are ordered to close.
Public schools in B.C. are closed temporarily after March break.
Prince Rupert doctors express public concern and request due diligence over increasing cases province-wide and lack of equipment and facilities if an outbreak in the city were to occur.
“Based on a population of 12,000 people, 7,200 will contract this virus if it is allowed to spread. Of those, 20 per cent which equals 1,440 people will need to be admitted into hospital. Prince Rupert has 26 beds in our hospital,” Dr. Gillaume Coetzee said in a letter to City Council. Dr. Cotzee is chief of staff at Prince Rupert Regional Hospital and a private medical practitioner.
Prince Rupert City Council unanimously declares a state of emergency.
“This is the challenge of our life. This is a challenge of this time. It’s a global challenge and we are all in this together. Right now what matters is the action we take as a community and the action that we put forward so that we can all know, in our hearts, that we did everything we possibly could do to protect everyone in this community,” Mayor Lee Brain said in making the announcement.
The Province rescinds the municipal state of emergency and Premier John Horgan said a “uniform’ approach is needed to
B.C. declares a provincial state of emergency. All dining establishments are closed, take away is still permitted. Playgrounds are closed. Personal spa services and salons are closed.
Grocery stores are limited to 50 people at a time, people must remain six feet apart in lines and use hand sanitizer upon story entry. Warnings are issued that some items may become scarce. The public starts to panic buy toilet paper.
Ten people have died province-wide from COVID-19
WHO reports that over 1 million cases worldwide had been confirmed – a tenfold increase in less than a month.
First presumptive case in Prince Rupert is announced.
“Dear Citizens of PR. Finally, IT has happened. We have our first presumptive case of Covid,” Dr. Marius Pienaar stated in a social media post.
“This was a visitor to our community and contact tracing is in place. The patient was intubated and transferred from this community.
“This is a good reminder to keep following the recommended rules re covid. And with the long weekend looming, please do not welcome visitors, family or otherwise, and stay isolated at home. The virus is here, amongst us. Now is not the time to relax our vigilance.”
Mid-month health officials said there has been some success in flattening the curve said some restrictions may soon be lifted.
B.C. restarts non-urgent surgeries. The 30,000 operations which were lost could take up to two years to catch up.
B.C.moves to Phase 2 of its restart plan, allowing all stores, salons, restaurants, libraries, museums, child-care facilities and parks to reopen. Medical services like physiotherapy, dentistry and massage therapy are allowed to resume.
B.C schools reopen for in-class instruction with students allowed to return on a voluntary basis for the final weeks of class under new COVID-19 protocols.
B.C. enters Phase 3 of its restart plan, allowing non-essential travel throughout the province.
Northern Health has seen 68 test-positive cases, marking the lowest rate compared to the other four health authorities. The health authority has conducted 9,144 tests.
Provincially fines are implemented for those breaking COVID-19 orders. Residents can be ordered to pay $2,000 for hosting an event outside of the rules
Northern Health area displays on the CDC COVID-19 dashboard of statistics that Prince Rupert has had two test-positive cases of COVID-19 and Haida Gwaii has had 27 cumulatively since the pandemic began.
Confirmed cases of COVID-19 rise dramatically. Dr. Bonnie Henry announces the province is in the second wave. During that day’s briefing, 499 new cases of the disease are announced from a three-day period.
Kelowna has first school outbreak with three positive tests and 160 to self-isolate
Many physical activities are limited, some travel is restricted and social gatherings with people from outside your household are prohibited.
A mandatory mask policy for all indoor public spaces is announced as well as several new health orders. The orders on social gatherings are extended for another two weeks and implemented province-wide.
B.C. records its highest ever single-day COVID-19 case count of 911, in the first year of the disease circulating in the province.
The public and social gathering ban is extended with no gatherings for Christmas or during the holiday season being announced.
Drug company Pfizer vaccine approved for use in Canada. B.C. premier said vaccines would arrive the following week. A 64-year-old health-care worker is the first person in B.C. to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. There was a province-wide ban on the sale of alcohol after 1 p.m. on New Year’s Eve to discourage parties.
Prince Rupert is reported on the Center for Disease Control dashboard of having 16 cases in the city since the start of the pandemic.
Provincial health official announce more than 1,000 people have died in BC since the start of the pandemicCVOID-19
Outbreak declared at Acropolis Manor on Jan. 19. All eligible residents and staff were provided vaccines starting on Jan. 20.
Health officials announce the province’s vaccination plan using Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.
The first of 16 residents to pass away at Acropolis Manor dies on Jan. 27 due to COVID-19.
“We are saddened to confirm that one resident who had tested positive in association with this outbreak, has passed away. We express our heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of this individual, and the staff who provided their care,” Eryn Collins communications manager for Northern Health said, on Jan. 28.
According to the CDC dashboard of COVID epidemiology cases Prince Rupert has had 276 confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 for the week of Feb. 21 to Feb. 27. There were zero cases for the week of Jan. 3 to 9. The spiking increase in Prince Rupert caught the attention of public health officials.
The week of Feb. 26 to March 6 saw 382 cases of COVID 19 on the epidemiology zone map on the CDC dashboard of reported instances.
Community-wide vaccination clinic opens on March 14 with CDC sending nursing staff to support the more than 10,000 vaccination goal during the next two weeks.
The outbreak at Acropolis Manor declared over on March 16 after 33 residents and 24 staff infected with the virus, leaving 16 fatalities amongst residents.
The Prince Rupert community vaccination clinics wind up on March 22 earlier than scheduled due to the massive community response to accepting the immunizations. More than 400 volunteers assisted in the efforts to vaccinate the community.
K-J Millar | Journalist
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