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Richmond mayor wants to know number of COVID-19 cases in the city

Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie would like Vancouver Coastal Health to inform the public of the number of COVID-19 cases in the city.
Malcolm Brodie
Mayor Malcolm Brodie gives his annual address at a Richmond Chamber of Commerce luncheon. Daisy Xiong photo.

Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie would like Vancouver Coastal Health to inform the public of the number of COVID-19 cases in the city.

Brodie has penned a letter to the health authority to that effect, and he told the Richmond News he’d like that information to be available to residents and businesses for “general awareness.”

“We communicated with Vancouver Coastal Health about the challenge that the information coming out isn’t city-specific,” he said.

Statistics are given by region and by province, but, despite being pressed, the health authority won’t give numbers by municipality, although early in the pandemic, Richmond’s medical health officer, Dr. Meena Dawar, did publicly state the number of cases.

Dr. Mark Lysyshyn, a medical health officer for VCH, has pointed out – in an online question-and-answer forum - about 10 per cent of COVID-19 cases are in Richmond;  as of Friday, that would be about 88 cases.

A VCH spokesperson pointed out it’s a provincial policy to not give out city-specific numbers of cases for privacy reasons and so people don’t feel too confident if the number is low.

Dawar explained about a month ago to the Richmond News that releasing the number would give people “false assurance” about the current pandemic.

But Coun. Chak Au said he would like more information in general to come directly from the health authority – instead of hearing about it in the media first.

He pointed out that the Richmond Hospital COVID-19 outbreak, the death of Warlito Valdez and the cluster of cases at Austin Harris Residences facility were all reported in the media before council was informed of them.

Nor was an explanation given on why plans for a testing site at Thompson Community Centre were shut down.

Without information, he questioned how council can make informed decisions.

“Should we ask more questions before we commit (to new projects)?” he said.

However, in its statement, VCH said Dawar works closely with the city and other organizations and businesses “to support our collective response to COVID-19.”

“Throughout the pandemic, Dr. Dawar has provided regular, proactive support and timely updates to the City of Richmond council, city administration and on the Richmond COVID-19 Community Task Force,” read the VCH statement.

VCH also stated they value their “strong relationship” with Richmond and plan to continue to give regular support and timely updates during the pandemic.