A local doctor is urging people in Revelstoke to social distance as the window to slow the spread of COVID-19 and prevent patients from overwhelming the medical system is closing.
Dr. Bret Batchelor said in a radio interview on EZ Rock Revelstoke yesterday that the main concern regarding coronavirus is to the elderly and immunocompromised. According to data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 80 per cent of deaths that have occurred in China are above the age of 60.
|Dr. Bret Batchelor. (Photo from Selkirk Medical Group website)|
Symptoms for COVID-19 include fever, cough and shortness of breath. In some cases, infection from the virus causes pneumonia, thereby making it very difficult for people to breath and ventilators are needed.
The hospital in Revelstoke only has two ventilators. Revelstoke had it’s first confirmed case of COVID-19 on Mar. 17.
At this point, Batchelor said the spread of the virus cannot be stopped.
“We can only slow it down.”
Globally, as-of-March 19 according to Johns Hopkins University, there are more than 245,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus in roughly 150 countries, of which 772 are in Canada. The World Health Organization declared the virus a pandemic on March 11. Approximately 9,800 people have died globally.
Batchelor said the hope is to slow the virus to the point where if everyone gets COVID-19, those that need ventilators, do not need them all at once. Batchelor continued if coronavirus cases trickle in, the situation is manageable.
“The problem is if they don’t trickle in, if everyone gets it in a very short window and all those people that require that support come in together.”
He continued that if the coronavirus cases in Italy, trickled in over a longer period of time, such as over the course of a year, the impacts from the outbreak would not have been so dire. As-of-March 19, Italy has the highest death toll with 3,405 dead, a rise of 427 on the day before. More than 60 million people are on lock down and police patrol the streets making sure no one is breaking curfew. Regardless, the number of new cases are still skyrocketing.
Batchelor said what’s hard about this public health crisis, is that over the course of human history, humans have come together during troublesome times.
“Naturally, we’re hardwired to do that, especially with our family.”
However, he continued that it’s important for people to socially distance as more people are going to have COVID-19 then are tested for it. They are not screening people with mild symptoms, unless they are a health care worker, a person known to have come in contact with the virus or someone in a long-term care home with symptoms.
Batchelor said there is a risk testing people for the virus.
“Because to test them we have to bring that person into the public and even with our best efforts, it’s hard to not have contact, including with health care workers,” he said.
“We’re trying to expose people minimally.”
Batchelor said the process of screening for COVID-19 is very specific. First, there is a BC COVID-19 Symptom Self-Assessment Tool. If the tool says a medical assessment is needed, Batchelor said to phone the Selkirk Medical Group and there are protocols to talk to patients via telephone.
“And we’ll assess you at that time, whether you need to be swabbed,” he said.
Batchelor continued that if patients needs to be swabbed, the doctor will give directions on how to get a swab at the Queen Victoria Hospital.