Viewpoint: Emergency room physician shares COVID view

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By Dr. TINA LAI

I wanted to reach out today because as an emergency room physician at Lions Gate Hospital in North Vancouver, I think we all need to pay attention to the situation that is unfolding with COVID-19. We are in a third wave. It is going to be a big one. And I am truly worried.

Here are some reasons: 

1) Lions Gate Hospital’s COVID ward is full. We had to take over another entire floor to make room for COVID patients. I have not seen it quite this bad since the beginning of the pandemic.

2) Many of the COVID patients being admitted are 20 to 55 years old, and they need 100 per cent oxygen. Some of these are healthy people with no pre-existing health issues.

3) Variants of concern are growing so rapidly, it is very concerning to me. They are now the majority of all cases in B.C.

Data from Ontario public health officials found the B.1.1.7 (U.K.) variant, which has spread the furthest in B.C., led to a 60 per cent increase in both risk of death or hospitalization and a 100 per cent greater risk of admission to intensive care. The P.1 variant from Brazil has affected many younger people. And I believe many of the 16 Canucks affected, some of whom are quite sick, most have a variant.

4) There is no clear evidence that the COVID vaccines work as effectively against the variants of concern. I personally have heard of a case of a patient who contracted a COVID variant even after having gotten the first shot of a vaccine.

5) School transmission: This is a hard topic for me to weigh in on, since the data is not as transparent. There definitely has been an increase in school clusters and exposures. But you’ll be reassured to hear there have not been significantly sick children with COVID requiring intensive care. However, there have been an increase in kids transmitting COVID to their entire families. So whether you choose to send your kids back to school is a valid question. Try your best to get them to wear a mask at all times if possible. It really makes a difference for preventing COVID transmission.

Overall, I wanted to let everyone know that I am really concerned with what’s happening in this third wave. We need to hunker down and keep to our household bubbles. Don’t travel. Don’t take chances. Cancel non-essential visits and travel. Please.

Daily cases are at a record high. Many of us are sick of hearing about it.

Many of us are tired of all the restrictions. I get it. I’m tired of it all too.

But now is not the time to turn a blind eye. Now is the time to pay attention.

Now is the time to turn on the news and listen to Dr. Bonnie Henry’s reports.

This is getting real.

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