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HomeNewsWhy Northern Health won't reveal which communities have confirmed COVID-19 cases

Why Northern Health won’t reveal which communities have confirmed COVID-19 cases

Doctor Raina Fumerton, the Acting Medical Health Officer with Northern Health, says they have a legal obligation to protect the personal information of cases of COVID-19, although she says it can be shared on a need to know basis…

“Information that would be shared publicly can include case counts at the health authority level, notifications of outbreaks in high risk settings such as acute care and long term care facilities, of which we have none at this time. As well as notification of high risk public exposures involving contacts that are otherwise identifiable. I give you as an example the Pacific Dental conference.”

We asked Doctor Fumerton how saying there is one case in Quesnel identifies the patient…

“I think the issue is that it’s a very slippery slope and it’s impossible to be keeping up with every community and at what point do you sort of draw the line and so, I would put the question back on you in terms of what would be done differently if you had those numbers.”

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Doctor Fumerton, acknowledging that there is a sense of frustration for some people, says there is provincial consensus among all of BC’s Medical Health Officers that more detailed information on cases, including comprehensive case counts for each and every community, is not necessary for communities to plan their responses, and therefore will not be released.

She says even if zero cases were diagnosed in a community, that is absolutely not a guarantee that the virus is absent because not everyone has been tested…

“We know, given our current testing strategy, that the majority of cases are going to go undiagnosed in terms of getting a lab confirmation, because we’re confirming our testing efforts for high priority populations, so these types of announcements, community by community, could very well produce a false sense of security.”

Fumerton does say that cases have been diagnosed in large and small communities within Northern Health across the entire region, and that there have been no outbreaks at acute care or long term care facilities.

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