A deputy ministers’ committee has been appointed to oversee a whole of government approach to implementing the province’s advanced COVID-19 response.
Premier John Horgan made the announcement Friday and said the committee will be co-chaired by Deputy Minister Lori Halls from Emergency Management BC as well as Steven Brown from the Ministry of Health.
“This deputy ministers committee will guide a whole government approach to this pandemic and ensure that we are as prepared as we could possibly be,” Horgan said. “In addition that committee will report to a committee of cabinet that will be co-chaired by Minister Dix and I that includes Finance Minister Carole James, Labour Minister Harry Bains, Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth, Tourism Minister Lisa Beare, and Economic Development Minister Michelle Mungall.”
Thanking everyone in healthcare for their extraordinary work to ensure British Columbians can have confidence in our public institutions when it comes to addressing this issue, Horgan said there will be four additional labs by the end of next week to test for COVID-19 as well as in the coming month additional machines so they can continue to increase the testing available to British Columbians.
“I believe that we are on the right track and I want to give British Columbians every confidence that the people here are at your disposal to give you information as it comes forward,” he added.
Four of the 21 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in B.C. have recovered. With the exception of one patient who is in the intensive care unit at Vancouver General Hospital, all other individuals with COVID-19 are in isolation at home
“While we are not at this point yet, B.C. is ready and willing to use emergency powers should they become necessary as set out in the Emergency Program Act and Public Health Act,” Health Minister Adrian Dix said. “At present, we are focusing on four key areas.”
Those areas are as follows:
- Protecting Population: actions would include capacity and expanding communication with at-risk groups. It would also enact government continuity plans to prepare for the possibility of high absence rates due to illness, or if employees are absent in order to care for family. It would also provide supports for businesses and institutions to manage the same challenges through a sustained three-to four-month outbreak; including grocery stores, public transportation, schools, and the tourism sector.
- Protecting Vulnerable Citizens: actions would include ways to protect seniors in long-term care, assisted living and home and community care, which could include reducing the number of people coming into facilities, screening visitors and increasing testing for the illness of residents and health-care workers.
- Protecting Health Workers: actions would include implementing standardized preparedness plans at the local level to support health-care workers to respond to a wider outbreak and provincially manage and co-ordinate supply chains for hospital, community and primary care. It would also bring in additional health-care capacity for specific communities under stress by establishing a list of health-care workers who could be rapidly redeployed for a sustained period.
- Supporting Health-care Capacity: actions would use established emergency operation committees across health authorities to assess the ability to plan and respond at a local level to a community-wide outbreak and create capacity, as needed, in hospitals for: discharging low-risk patients; deferring scheduled surgeries and procedures; identifying capacity for new care spaces within hospitals; and ensuring bed equipment capacity. It would also ensure readiness to implement hospital-wide protocols to safely triage and separate anyone presenting with respiratory illness.