(File Photo)

Over 700 local physicians have come together in pleading with the public to maintain social distance and help flatten the COVID-19 curve by making virtual appointments and forgoing the usual “drop-in” system.

Following guidelines put forth by Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, local family doctors are working to prevent further spread of COVID-19 by urging patients to make virtual appointments.

In a letter signed by physicians across Greater Victoria, doctors remind the public that what they do today will impact the health and perhaps the fate of British Columbians in the next weeks and months.

The letter is signed by doctors Vanessa Young and Jane McGregor, on behalf of the 245 South Island family physicians, and doctors Katharine McKeen, Tim Troughton ,and Kathy Dabrus on behalf of the 500 urban Greater Victoria family physicians.

Virtual systems

Among the steps taken to move to a virtual system, many family doctors across southern Vancouver Island have begun to conduct their daily appointments by phone or through a virtual platform.

This allows patients to maintain the connection with their physician without having to see them face to face, thus mitigating the risks of COVID-19 transmission.

The letter states that authorities are also developing ways to assess patients who need to be examined in person without transmitting the virus to others.

“These solutions will require a little more time to organize, however, planning is well underway,” reads the letter.

Patients are also asked not “drop in” to their doctor’s office, and rather phone the office first to determine whether their appointment might be possible over the phone or virtually.

Those who require a face-to-face appointment may be asked to wait in their vehicle or an arrangement might be made to see them at a different location.

The Victoria and South Island Division of Family Practice are two of 35 divisions in British Columbia that make up the Divisions of Family Practice, an initiative of the General Practice Services Committee, a partnership between the Province of B.C. and Doctors of B.C.

Together, these doctors represent around 745 family physician members that provide primary care services in Greater Victoria and the South Island.

See all the latest updates about the global COVID-19 pandemic on Vancouver Island

At the time of publication, there are a total of 44 confirmed cases of coronavirus on Vancouver Island and 617 in B.C.

The federal government recently announced an $82 billion assistance package for Canadians and businesses struggling financially during the global pandemic. This was followed by a $5 billion relief package announced by the B.C. provincial government.

The provincial government also announced the indefinite suspension of all in-person classes at K-12 schools in B.C., and closure of all bars and restaurants, among other measures to enforce social distancing measures.

The BCCDC has set up a 2019 novel coronavirus telephone information line at 1-833-784-4397 for those who have further questions about this disease.

Anyone concerned that they may have been exposed to, or are experiencing symptoms of the novel coronavirus, should contact their primary care provider, local public health office, or call 8-1-1.

The Province has also created the 1-888-COVID-19  line to connect British Columbians needing non-medical information about the coronavirus pandemic.

As of the time of publication, the total number of COVID-19 patients worldwide has risen to 463,418.

Over 20,900 people have died from the illness and 113,802 have made a full recovery.

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