Langford mayor Stew Young is calling for more drastic measures in the capital region in light of the global coronavirus pandemic.
Multiple major events have been cancelled, Transport Canada has suspended cruise ship season until June 1st, and all non essential travel outside the country has been discouraged.
However according to Mayor Young, this is not enough.
“This virus spreads too fast, we can’t wait for it to affect our students and all of our communities. We must take all available measures to slow it down,” he said in a statement.
Young is calling for all schools, including colleges and universities, to be shut down in light of the COVID-19 outbreak, similar to measures taken in Ontario and Quebec.
In her update on Thursday, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said schools will remain open for the time being.
“We don’t believe it is appropriate at the moment to close schools. They are places where young people can be kept safe from a lot of things and learn about social distancing,” Henry said at a press briefing.
“Sometimes the impact of closing schools can cause a lot of societal disruption and economic impact so we want to do that in a measured way.”
Young also wants BC Ferries to confine passengers to their vehicles, abandoning the “don’t stay on bottom deck“ rule.
“We have a serious world threat and it’s safer for everyone to stay in their cars than mingle on a deck or eating in a cafeteria. Please get someone in federal government to wake up and let people isolate and stay in their cars on the lower deck,” he stated.
He goes on to point out that while the cruise ship ban was a start, the Clipper, COHO and Washington State Ferries must also be prevented from docking in Victoria in order to prevent the spread of the outbreak.
According to the latest updates, there are now 457 COVID-19 cases and 25 deaths in neighbouring Washington state.
Young also calls for bus tours to be suspended for the time being to reduce the risk of transmission among workers.
“The above steps, as drastic and difficult as they may be, are only way to slow down the spread of the virus and not overwhelm our health care system,” he concludes.
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.
In light of the global coronavirus pandemic, the B.C. Ministry of Health has advised against all non essential travel outside Canada, including to the United States.
Those who do choose to travel against this advice will be asked to self isolate from school or work for 14 days upon their return to Canada.
Authorities are expected to provide their daily COVID-19 update for B.C. at 3:30 p.m. this afternoon.