President & CEO and Chief MHO Joint Update: November 19, 2020


Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced sweeping new measures to slow the spread of COVID-19 today. This included a mandatory mask policy for indoor retail and public spaces, issued by the Solicitor General under the Emergency Act, and she updated and expanded upon the regional orders for Fraser and Vancouver Coastal Health which now cover all of BC for the next two weeks.

Those orders limit our social interactions with anyone outside of our immediate household, and include:

  • No social gatherings of any size with anyone other than your household, or your core bubble if you live alone.
  • No indoor social gatherings or events, including places of worship. 
  • No indoor group fitness in high-risk settings – such as indoor spin, high intensity interval training and hot yoga. Updated guidelines are being developed for all indoor group sports, and COVID safety plans will need to be updated.
  • Other sports may continue under current safety plans, but no spectators (indoors or outdoors) and no travel.

Dr. Henry has asked employers to allow working from home where possible until at least January, and is urging employees who must be in the workplace to minimize their social interactions in the workplace – before, during and after work. At Island Health, if you are currently working from home, please continue to do so.

Travel should be limited to essential only – which includes to and from work – whether within BC or elsewhere. “Getting through this surge in new cases requires all of us to do our part and support each other,” Dr. Henry said. “We need to urgently reduce the level of transmission and our cases across the province in these next two weeks. We need to ensure our health-care system can meet the health needs of all of us.” Read the new order here.

I know this is a lot of information to take in, and to digest the potential impacts this will have on you and those around you at work and in your personal life for the next two weeks. I expect you may have questions after reviewing the order. Dr. Henry and the Ministry of Health will provide additional detail in the coming days as questions arise. We will be sure to share any clarifications with you in our end of day updates.

Across the Island Health family we have led by example – taking all of the requested actions by Dr. Henry since the pandemic began in the spring. Today we ask you and those you care about to recommit to these important actions. Let’s continue to lead by example so we can protect ourselves, those close to us, our health-care system, and each other at Island Health.


On Wednesday, we confirmed one additional case at Tsawaayuus Rainbow Gardens long-term care home in Port Alberni, where a resident has tested positive. There are no additional cases at NRGH. You can find the latest information on outbreaks here.


Effective this week, the mouth-rinse/gargle testing method is now available for children and adults at all Island Health collection sites. Individuals (ages 4+) with COVID-19 symptoms can be tested using a gargle test or a nasopharyngeal swab. Both are good options and will be able to accurately determine if patients have COVID-19.

People wanting the option of having a saline gargle test need to review the instructions before coming in for testing, as there is some preparation required. See handout or watch this video: Find more information on our Symptoms & Testing page.


Provincial Update (Today):

  • 538 people have newly-confirmed COVID-19 for a total of 24,960 people
  • 1 new death – 321 COVID-19 related deaths in B.C.
  • 6,929 people with active COVID-19 in B.C. – 217 in hospital – 59 in critical/ICU
  • 59 active outbreaks in provincial health-care system (40 in LTC/AL – 19 Acute)

Island Health Update (Today):

  • 12 people have newly-confirmed COVID-19 for a total of 429 people
  • 0 deaths –  6 COVID-19 related deaths in Island Health
  • 115 people with active COVID-19 in Island Health – 3 in hospital – 0 in critical/ICU
  • 2 active outbreaks in Island Health care facilities (1 LTC – 1 Acute)
  • See breakdown by region (South/Central/North) – and outbreaks (active and resolved)

Read updates from Dr. Bonnie Henry, Provincial Health Officer:

Stay informed: