As more cases of COVID-19 are identified in the B.C. Interior every day, the question of where those cases are — specifically — starts to weigh more heavily.
While it won’t release numbers on a city-by-city basis, the Interior Health Authority said you should assume COVID-19 is circulating in your community and act accordingly by following the advice of the provincial health officer.
Rumours and news tips have filled the inboxes of local reporters, who have followed up with the health authority on each one.
But, Interior Health has declined to confirm anything.
Susan Duncan, a spokesperson for the authority, said with the stigma and nervousness associated with COVID-19, people need to feel safe knowing that their identities will be protected if they come forward and are diagnosed with the virus.
“When there is a positive case, the patient receives support from the health authority’s public health teams, but the community is not identified by the province to protect that patient’s identity and to further enable the protection of others by encouraging people to come forward if needed,” said Duncan.
As far as protecting people’s privacy, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry shares much the same opinion.
“We will not be identifying the specific location of confirmed cases unless public health providers cannot be certain they have reached all those who need to be contacted and who, therefore, might be a risk to the public,” said Dr. Henry.
“We want people who have symptoms to contact us, and to feel safe contacting us knowing their privacy will be protected so the steps to protect the health and safety for all can be taken. This is why privacy is important to everyone. It allows public health providers to do the work they need to do to keep everybody safe.”
The most recent numbers from Henry on March 24 confirmed 41 cases in the Interior Health region. Province-wide, there are 617 cases, of which 59 are currently hospitalized.