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Sunshine Coast COVID Physician Task Force Community Update 9 (March 24)

Dear Fellow Sunshine Coast Residents: Thank you to everyone who continues to take every precaution to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 on the Sunshine Coast.

Dear Fellow Sunshine Coast Residents:

Thank you to everyone who continues to take every precaution to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 on the Sunshine Coast. So many people are jumping in and helping with the effort across the Coast and it’s really amazing to see.

We see people forwarding our Community Updates to others in the community (and across the province); donating, making or buying medical supplies; looking for ways to help others in our community; and finding creative ways to get the message out on social media (thank you Wilderness Crew!). With everyone working together we will have a chance to slow things down enough to make a difference. Thank you!

This morning the Sunshine Coast Community Task Force held a meeting to help coordinate the efforts of everyone on the Coast who wants to help our community get through this unprecedented crisis. It was really inspiring to hear the passion that people have for our community, and to know that we are not alone in this fight against a deadly and invisible enemy.

If you are looking for ways to get involved, please keep an eye on the SCRD, Gibsons and Sechelt websites for more information. We need all the help that we can get!

For those of you who develop cold or flu-like symptoms that are severe enough to feel you need to see a doctor, but not severe enough to call 911, please call or text our new Respiratory Assessment Clinic at 604-740-1252 or email

The Respiratory Assessment Clinic is open seven days a week from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Please note that this clinic is only for people living on the Sunshine Coast and that it is by appointment only.

There are no new updates on the status of COVID-19 on the Coast at this time. We assume that COVID-19 is here and based on what is happening everywhere else in the world, it is only a matter of time before we have our first hospital admission. Appended to this Update is a summary of our current recommendations for preventing the spread of COVID-19 in our community. A printable version is available on the Sunshine Coast Divisions of Family Practice website at

Moving forward, we will be shifting our focus to preparing our hospital for what is coming. We will continue to put out Community Updates, but they will likely be shorter and focused on new information. If there is any significant change in the status of COVID-19 on the Coast or significant changes in our recommendations, we will let the community know immediately.

This does not reflect a change in the urgency of our message. It is vitally important that everyone does their part right now to try and prevent COVID-19 from gaining a foothold in our community. Given that it takes up to two weeks from time of exposure to development of symptoms, we won’t be seeing the effects of our current measures for a few more weeks. Please be patient, please be vigilant and please be careful!

Hopefully our efforts will be enough to make a difference!

Please check the Coast Reporter website regularly for updates on COVID-19 in our community, and tune in daily on Eastlink Community TV at 5:30, 7:30 and 10 p.m. Also stay tuned to Coast FM for breaking news on COVID-19.

Please visit the Gibsons, Sechelt and SCRD websites for daily updates regarding community services and our local response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Keep well, wash your hands, keep your distance, and stay at home unless you have a medical emergency or another essential task!

Sincerely, The Sunshine Coast COVID Physician Task Force

-Dr Jennifer Baxter

-Dr Ted Krickan

-Dr Herman Mentz

-Dr Brian Nelson

-Dr Daren Spithoff


Sunshine Coast COVID Physician Task Force Recommendations

March 24, 2020

Why is COVID-19 different from the common cold or flu?

None of us are immune to COVID-19 (unless we have already been infected), so we are all susceptible to infection. Although most people develop mild or minimal symptoms, up to 20 per cent of people develop more severe infection, which can lead to hospitalization and even death.

How is COVID-19 transmitted?

COVID-19 is transmitted via contact with mucous membranes, most commonly the eyes, nose and mouth. If your mucous membranes come in contact with COVID-19 because you touch your face after touching a contaminated surface, or you come in direct contact with water droplets from a cough or sneeze, you are at risk for infection.

Who is most at risk for severe infection?

Risk for severe infection increases over the age of fifty and is highest in people over 80. Chronic health conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, heart failure, chronic lung conditions, and other health issues also increase the risk for more severe disease.

What happens if we don’t do anything?

Most of us would become infected within a relatively short span of time (it could be as short as two and a half months). This would mean a large number of severely sick people in a very short time, which would make it difficult, if not impossible, for our healthcare providers to keep up.

What can I do to protect myself and my community?

Stay home if at all possible (medical emergencies and essential work/tasks excluded). Order online or by phone and have items delivered to your porch. If you have to go out in public, practise social distancing. Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly and don’t touch your face unless you have just washed your hands.

What do you mean by social distancing?

If you are out in public, do not gather in groups larger than five people and maintain a distance of at least six feet between all other people at all times. Avoid parties, play dates, concerts, church services, sleepovers, bars, restaurants, gyms, or any other place where people gather.

I’m low risk (age under 50, no other health problems). Why should I do this?

While you may not develop severe symptoms if you contract COVID-19, you now increase the chances that you will pass COVID-19 on to someone who is at higher risk for more severe infection. In Italy and Spain, who are being overwhelmed by COVID-19, much of the initial spread occurred amongst children and younger adults who had minimal symptoms, but then spread to higher risk populations, which is now resulting in widespread loss of life.

What should I do if I just returned from travelling abroad or other parts of Canada?

Self-isolate for 14 days. If you develop cold or flu symptoms during that time, self-isolate for ten days from the onset of symptoms. Please seek medical assistance if you develop more severe symptoms or your symptoms have not resolved within ten days.

Self-isolation means locking yourself in your room and not coming out for fourteen days. Ensure you have access to a shower and a toilet. Friends and/or family will have to help with food. See for tips on self-isolation.

What should I do if I develop mild cold or flu symptoms?

Self-isolate for ten days from the onset of symptoms. Please seek medical assistance if you develop more severe symptoms or your symptoms have not resolved within ten days.

What should I do if I think I need to see a doctor for my cold or flu symptoms?

Call or text the Respiratory Assessment Clinic (only for residents of the Sunshine Coast or people who are here visiting) at 604-740-1252, or email the clinic at

The clinic is open seven days per week from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The Respiratory Assessment Clinic is by appointment only and same day bookings are available.

What should I do if I am having trouble breathing and need an ambulance?

Call 911 and let them know that you are having trouble breathing so that paramedics can take appropriate precautions to protect themselves while they are bringing you to the hospital.

What should I do if I have a non-respiratory medical issue and need to see my doctor?

All the family medicine clinics on the Coast remain open, but have shifted almost entirely to virtual or phone care during this crisis. If your physician determines that you need to be seen in person, arrangements will be made for an in-person appointment.

Please contact your usual family medicine clinic to make an appointment. If you do not have a family doctor, please contact the Arbutus Clinic at 604-885-2384, the Cowrie Clinic at 604-885-6222, the Gibsons Clinic at 604-886-2868, the Sechelt Clinic at 604-885-2257, or the Upstream Clinic at 604-885-6400 to book a virtual or in-person walk-in clinic appointment.

What should I do if I have a non-respiratory medical emergency?

If you have an acute medical issue that requires immediate attention by a doctor, proceed to the Emergency Department at Sechelt Hospital as you usually would. Please see your family doctor or the walk-in clinic for any medical issues that do not require immediate attention.

If you have an acute medical issue that requires immediate attention by a doctor and you require transportation by an ambulance, call 911.

Thank you to everyone who is working to keep our community as safe as possible!

We will get through this together!