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After months of reporting no COVID-19 deaths in the Vancouver Island Health region, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry had some sad news for the island on Monday.

A total of three people died of COVID-19 related illness over the past weekend, and one of those people resided in the Vancouver Island Health region.

In answer to a Victoria Buzz question, Henry added that the individual was a man in his 50s or 60s who had underlying health conditions.

He died in the community, at home, and was not diagnosed with COVID-19 until after his death.

Henry offered her condolences to the man’s family and friends and added that the death was “very disturbing and tragic for his family.”

The other two people who died over the weekend were in the Fraser Health and Vancouver Coastal Health regions.

Compared to the Lower Mainland, the Vancouver Island Health region has seen relatively few people die after contracting the coronavirus. Part of this is attributed to the fact that, like New Zealand, the region is an island where non-essential travel has been limited for several months.

However Henry says given the fact that there are lots of people who go back and forth between the island and the mainland, there are other factors at play.

“We’ve been lucky in some ways as well where we’ve had people who have come back to the island with COVID and have not spread it to large numbers of people, despite parties and other things going on,” she said in response to a second Victoria Buzz question.

Some of the lower transmission numbers is due to the fact that Island residents have been doing the right thing, keeping older populations in mind.

“A little bit of it is luck, a little bit of it is people paying attention and doing the right thing… We also have a very strong public health team that’s working with our communities across the Island.”

As daily case numbers remain around the 100 per day mark, the Provincial Health Officer also emphasized the need to hold on to physical distancing, increase hygiene, and other measures that have helped the island keep numbers lower than average.

“We can’t get complacent, anywhere in B.C., because we are seeing that people are bringing this with them, unintentionally.”

Henry reiterated her call for British Columbians to keep their social bubbles tight and reduce the number of social interactions they have with people outside those bubbles.

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