With extensive modelling and planning, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry thinks, even in a China-like scenario, B.C. has the capacity to handle the COVID-19 outbreak.
Henry pointed out if social distancing measures hadn’t been put in place, the province would have had 215 cases per a million, whereas the number now stands at 130 cases per million.
“We are making a difference in bending the curve,” Henry said.
However, Health Minister Adrian Dix said they are currently preparing for the “worst possible scenario.”
Currently, there are 457 adult critical care ventilators available in hospitals across the province – 348 in 17 COVID-19 primary care sites – but total ventilator capacity is almost 1,300 in the province.
COVID-19 cases are expected to be treated at the 17 largest hospitals and within the same wards with the same care staff to reduce the spread of the virus.
Focusing on 17 large hospitals across the province, the health authorities have been freeing up beds by cancelling elective surgeries and bringing on board more than a hundred more ventilators.
Staff is being moved around to prepare for an influx of patients.
The health authorities are expecting the incidences for children to be low, but any cases would be treated at BC Children’s Hospital.
Looking at a graph comparing China, Italy, South Korea and B.C., Henry said B.C. is aiming to look like South Korea.
Based on what happened in Hubei province, China, health officials expect 4.7 per cent of patients to be in critical care, 13.8 per cent in non-critical care and an average hospital stay of 12 days.
In a worst-case scenario, patients would need to be moved around, and BC Ambulance has been working over the past few days to see what their capacity is for this.
The province started its models from when there were two cases per million residents in B.C. – this was March 4 – and then has been looking at what happened in China, Italy and South Korea using this same baseline.
If the curve is flattened and B.C. doesn’t experience a crisis like China or Italy, this will buy time as medical researchers create a vaccine and look for medication that can treat COVID-19.
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