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Interior Health CEO Defines How and When COVID-19 Cases are Disclosed

Some COVID-19 cases are disclosed while others are not.

Insight on what goes into that decision was provided during the COVID-19 Interior Health Authority Virtual Town Hall on Thursday, April 24, 2020.

A panel of four addressed the public’s concerns in the Q & A.

Among them was Kootenay West MLA Katrine Conroy, Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick, Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Sue Pollock and CEO Susan Brown for Interior Health. 

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A public participant from West Kelowna asked, “Interior Health covers a huge portion of our province. I understand the need for patient privacy, but it wouldn’t violate the information and privacy act to give us an estimate on how many cases there are in each community. Why isn’t this information being provided?”

Brown began by stating that Interior Health’s actions follow the direction of the Provincial Health Officer.

“When there’s an outbreak somewhere, like a long-term care facility or in a group cluster where we need to see people’s behaviour change, that is something we declare and make public,” said Brown.

However, Brown said individual cases will be kept confidential if they do not directly impact communities, such as in the case described above.

“Some of our communities are small and that privacy is really important,” noted Brown. “We’ve seen in other jurisdictions in other countries where that has become a problem.”

Interior Health’s strategy, according to Brown, is to let people feel free and open to come forward. Once a test is done, the individual gets a follow-up from a medical professional.

“I think that’s paid off for us,” said Brown. “British Columbia has actually tested more people than many jurisdictions in Canada. I think that’s because people feel more comfortable coming forward.”

Brown said to-date, over 60,000 British Columbians have been tested.

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