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COVID-19: BC NEEDS MORE TESTS

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As residents of the lower mainland keep their eyes glued to the television in hopes of receiving positive updates in relation to this global pandemic, they are disappointed and disheartened by the exponentially increasing infection and death rate of the highly contagious COVID-19. The timeline and increase in numbers are highly reminiscent of the early days of the COVID-19 outbreak in Italy, which has now amassed to over 59 000 infections and over 5000 deaths. With Canada seeming to follow these footsteps, one must wonder: “What are we doing wrong?” And, “how can we stop the spread of disease?”

To combat COVID-19, the World Health Organization recommends extensive testing, contact tracing, quarantining, isolation, and social/physical distancing. Although many of us have taken it upon ourselves to undertake the latter half, the BC government is only implementing public COVID-19 testing for those with respiratory symptoms who require hospitalization or were in specific locations with a large number of cases. However, this puts the general public at risk as, arguably, testing is the most important factor in countering the virus, with WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus claiming, “We have a simple message for all countries: test, test, test.” Echoing that statement, Andrea Crisanti, an infectious disease expert working in Italy, says “Test the neighborhood, test the relatives, test the friends, and isolate all positive individuals. If you do it now, you will stop the disease.”

Furthermore, if we are not testing – we cannot be contact tracing. Community transmission cases will not be tracked if we do not know who is sick to begin with, as the majority of those infected show only minor symptoms. Individuals with mild cases are more likely to be the ones that ignore social distancing guidelines. They may be going to work, going on grocery runs, or they may be one of those people we saw on the beaches of Vancouver, blatantly ignoring the appeals of Dr. Bonnie Henry, our provincial health officer. If social distancing rules are not being enforced, then at least rigorous testing should be.

Our current approach of only testing those that require hospitalization or those who were recently in a localized area with a large number of cases is nowhere near as effective as the policies set in other countries. South Korea, for example, has implemented the process of rigorous testing and it has allowed for the rate of infection to decrease. They were the first to incorporate multiple locations for drive through tests, and to date, have tested over 330 000 people, as opposed to Canada’s 88 883 (as of 5pm March 22nd, 2020). As of March 16, 2020, the infection rate in South Korea has been steadily declining, and currently, the fatality rate in South Korea for COVID-19 is 0.7%, which is drastically lower than the global average of 3.4%. It seems intuitive that Canada should start testing to the degree that South Korea is. Despite the BC government’s statement that testing is not necessary unless you’re a critical case, the truth is that we are actually not testing because we do not have the resources.

Therefore, the question becomes: “How come other countries are capable of testing at a much higher rate than we are?” One of the factors that has allowed South Korea to test rigorously is a rapid approval system that was put in place in response to the SARS pandemic that threatened the world in 2002-2003. Although we weren’t as prepared for a pandemic, we do currently have options that could allow us to reach the testing levels of South Korea. Canada could fast track test kits by looking at which tests are being approved in other countries. This could also battle the dilemma of facing limited resources by implementing different types of tests other than the popular nasopharyngeal swab. Many labs are coming out with various versions of rapid testing that detect antibodies via blood sample. These rapid tests allow anywhere from a 10-minute to 3-hour window to give a positive or negative result. Bangladesh and the United States have recently given the approval to use these alternative tests to the nasal swab so they can follow the WHO’s recommendation to “test, test, test.”

It is essential that we as a community come together to put pressure on our representatives to approve and implement rapid test kits so BC can catch up to the rest of the world in fighting this virus. We can contact our representatives, MP’s, and politicians for the safety of everyone in our community, including our grandparents, parents, and our immunocompromised friends. Please take a moment to look at the links below and write your concerns regarding our government’s lack of testing. If we put pressure on our government to fast-track more testing methods, perhaps we could all go back to our daily routines faster, and in the process, save a few lives.

 

City of Surrey

COVID-19@surrey.ca

 

Mayor Doug McCallum:

Phone: (604) 591-4126

Email: mayor@surrey.ca

 

Member of Parliament for Surrey-Newton

Sukh Dhaliwal

Phone: (604) 598-2200

sukh.dhaliwal@parl.gc.ca

 

Member of Parliament for Surrey Centre

Randeep Sarai

Phone: (604) 589-2441

Randeep.sarai@parl.gc.ca

 

 

 

 

RESOURCES:

-CDC Testing Procedures: http://www.bccdc.ca/health-info/diseases-conditions/covid-19/testing-isolation?fbclid=IwAR2Nx80aPMlsDwWO7JROWcW_QIL-AkC45JXDe84g-RlhtaqRROVApcv26xQ

-Stats: http://www.bccdc.ca/health-info/diseases-conditions/covid-19/case-counts-press-statements?fbclid=IwAR2fjHRDBPVz3wZb0eRtpRwaFfClJYp1g0sJx3VA9x56oIy0jdUTXSnnwYc

-Advice from Italy: https://www.cbc.ca/news/health/coronavirus-canada-testing-symptoms-italy-1.5504780?fbclid=IwAR1KQnrI1iqTEzvJHZ_9RXGTocq9L6B8goH-8rJb1DGr8pAxGtFKsWU4fTM

-Key is to Test:

https://www.bbc.com/news/av/world-51916707/who-head-our-key-message-is-test-test-test?fbclid=IwAR00o0V8rNCJ3MoJY1r43969XxL5N348LeExPwfTEuuYWcMziFIrD5zIHGw

-Opinion Piece – Vancouver: https://www.squamishchief.com/pandemic-widespread-in-vancouver-as-testing-capacity-fails-needs-b-c-doctor-1.24100643?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter&fbclid=IwAR3TPXHhVPVzZRUAy6f9yBbxQN6SuLE0btM0NsvrxBTBLf5awje0F1yzt8s

-South Korea Testing: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-51970379

-Status Quo due to Testing Shortage: https://ottawa.ctvnews.ca/don-t-have-the-capacity-to-do-that-many-swabs-top-doctor-defends-covid-19-testing-1.4861872

-Testing for Health Care Workers: https://bccatholic.ca/news/catholic-van/vancouver-s-first-drive-through-covid-19-test-site-opens-for-health-care-workers?fbclid=IwAR1W3YXndsq_R27ctXtC_e9Dw9uQUDCM1L_HSC8eO14o0EezWssQEdwK1a4

-Bill Gates take on testing: https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/news/world/covid-19-bill-gates-says-countries-that-test-for-coronavirus-will-bounce-back-in-weeks/article31106514.ece?fbclid=IwAR1NQ1foMtQ_WHTM9H47zkzWZDe9u0-8hyYuDgWpaLxmBCcH8M-kqbPf2Kk

-South Korea’s success: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/mar/20/south-korea-rapid-intrusive-measures-covid-19?fbclid=IwAR27BRIg8y-HcUCw919cw1ECwz7AuNznE4HQoHBk3Nq9PNZ00rMwU2TBQCc

-Importance of testing mild symptoms: https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-00822-x?fbclid=IwAR2nQfu–ydCElzcEE6FiJaDf6kcD11zD7zts6iJuUItfbdLkuo1GLmDte4

-Rapid Testing: https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20200318005814/en/?fbclid=IwAR2IvC8Bw7yOOWln7-kieXOtiTOLu5OrRqUFC19iPPD_8lQhQExqB_kdbHk

-Bangladesh Rapid Tests: https://www.medicaldevice-network.com/news/bangladesh-low-cost-covid-19-test/

-Low Resources: https://www.ctvnews.ca/health/coronavirus/health-officials-explain-why-not-everyone-can-get-swabbed-for-covid-19-right-now-1.4855979?fbclid=IwAR3bGXY9SQ6sn_x44V3DJiG4Nvq1nuOVdyIUHSf_cbyKIkV0noYxAw-_4P4

-Coronavirus in South Korea: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-51836898?fbclid=IwAR0OYngfTviBJ20Fs44bSbO531FSD5c6vDaARmx72JMJSdlU7z6OskheY9Y

-Why we aren’t testing: https://www.cbc.ca/news/health/covid-testing-shortages-1.5503926?fbclid=IwAR12wq6MhFqcEd8Z_-IhGDY9d8P6YCHLCv1gtqS3bWgj0Ziernc0WcsEOHM

-South Korea Infection Rate: https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/country/south-korea/?fbclid=IwAR3Bo70u4-SPt9jKkrJtqiyd3j4G6L–cyGF0ou_cEDsyeyx-0LOyujB-Y8

This article was submitted by a reader from the Surrey Community. You can submit your own community story, press release, event or public notice directly to our Community Board today! We also have advertising and promotional options for businesses.

Community Board

DIVERSEcity CEO Neelam Sahota talks about supporting mothers at home and in the workplace for Mother’s Day

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On Mother’s Day this year, let’s take time to not only celebrate mothers, but really acknowledge them. See them. Not just the smile on their lips, but the worry in their eyes. The exhaustion on their faces. The load on their shoulders.

The COVID-19 global crisis has highlighted the emotional, often invisible, workload that mothers carry. It has also increased that workload.

As we self-isolate in our homes, mothers are carrying the burden of homeschooling, often while working full-time jobs from home, in addition to the cooking, cleaning, shopping and so on.

Many are also still working outside the home, as leaders on health care’s frontlines, or working in essential or service industries, helping us all safely access groceries and essentials during this crisis. We are also seeing amazing women leaders rise up to battle this crisis at the policy level.

For all of them, traditional lines of work and home are being blurred, and it’s important we don’t dismiss or ignore the pressure mothers may be under now — and as we rebuild our workplaces after COVID-19.

As a mother myself, I remember the challenges of building a career in a traditional workplace when my kids were young. When I took on the role of CEO at DIVERSEcity with three children under the age of 12, I was fortunate to have a strong support network. But I still had to make accommodations and choose priorities for myself as a professional versus a mother. During this crisis, I can only imagine the strain working mothers of young children are currently under.

The Canadian Human Rights Commission says that COVID-19 is “having a disproportionate impact on women. Social and economic barriers have been amplified for racialized women, Indigenous women, migrant women, women with low income, single mothers and other women. They are at greater risk of job loss, poverty, food insecurity, loss of housing and domestic violence.”

The Commission recommends taking a feminist approach to re-establishing our workplaces. Canadian Women’s Foundation calls for us to invest in diverse women’s leadership opportunities and empower girls, asking us to imagine what women could achieve if we supported them to the fullest.

Flexible workplaces need to be more of the norm

As a leader of a social services organization, I want all my employees, especially mothers, to feel supported during this crisis. As we all continue to work from home, providing services to our clients through phone and virtual options, I want them to know we see them, we appreciate them and we will give them the flexibility they need not just during COVID-19, but as part of our permanent organizational culture. I would not be in my role today if I did not have flexibility in my career along the way. This is my commitment to working mothers in our organization. You don’t have to choose between being a mother and being a professional. Organizational cultures like DIVERSEcity’s need to be the equalizer and more of the norm in our workplaces today.

As for what’s next? Let’s use the lessons from this crisis to reimagine the 21st century workplace more thoughtfully. Let’s all be more flexible and more authentic to who we are and what we need as professionals, as parents, as humans.

To all the mothers holding things together for their families in these challenging times, have a happy Mother’s Day.

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Community Board

Seeking Yoga Instructors interested in giving classes outdoors in parks

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By

Hi There!

Just wondering if there are any Yoga  Instructors interested in giving outdoor classes at Bakerview Park in South Surrey? It is an awesome, well tended park with lots of space for social distancing. Since Community Centers are closed and will remain so for the foreseeable future, activities like this would be great and popular, I bet. Specially with the weather getting nicer everyday. Anyone?

Contact authorannicklemay@icloud.com if interested.

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Community Board

Consumer Choice Awards for BC announced. 17 companies from Surrey won!

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Consumer Choice Awards for BC announced. 17 companies from Surrey won!

https://www.accesswire.com/587809/Vancouver-Region-2020-Consumer-Choice-Award-Winners

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Community Board

SFU Surrey engineering students use 3D printing skills to develop COVID-19 supplies

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When the call went out that local hospital staff needed COVID-19 supplies, SFU Mechatronics Systems Engineering (MSE) students were eager to help using the high-tech skills they’ve been learning.

MSE Professor Woo Soo Kim and 60 students worked from home, designing and developing medical mask parts, using their personal 3D printers. Five hundred medical mask ear-savers, which help to eliminate pressure and discomfort, were given to Vancouver General Hospital (VGH) staff.

Kim says that engineers within the 3D printing community are looking for opportunities to give back during the pandemic. “COVID-19 is quite tragic, but because of this we can see how we can contribute to the community from the engineering perspective,” says Kim.

Now that SFU’s Additive Manufacturing Lab in Surrey has been cleared to open for essential work, Kim and graduate students, while following strict health protocols, are developing special door handles that allow people to open a door without using their hands. These supplies will be given to City of Surrey municipal workers.

“The City of Surrey has long recognized the expertise of SFU Surrey’s 3D printing capabilities,” says Mayor Doug McCallum. “When the COVID-19 pandemic began, we already had earlier discussions with SFU Surrey’s engineering professors on the department’s ability to utilize its 3D printing technology to produce critical personal protective equipment and other devices in response to COVID-19.”

“I want to commend the SFU Mechatronics Systems Engineering students and professors for the innovative and critical work they are accomplishing. We look forward to future collaborations on other 3D printed innovations that could protect our health-care workers and first responders during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

This project provides an opportunity for students to collaborate and put what they’ve learned in class to practice.

“I really wanted to help out in some other way, apart from the physical distancing,” says Nina Lin, VP of Internal Relations for the MSE Student Society. “Many other students had friends and family from other parts of the world, who are facing a bigger crisis, so they really wanted to help out. We’re all eager to assist our community and use our talents, skills, and knowledge to give back.”

Students will be able to apply their work to a directed study course for credit. Students also determined a way to cut down the time it takes to print the mask straps, from 33 minutes to nine.

SFU is harnessing its resources in other ways to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. To read about them visit www.sfu.ca/sfunews/covid-19.

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Community Board

Chatime Bubble Tea Supports Surrey Memorial Front line

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Chatime Bubble Tea Supports Our Front-Line Workers!

In the last few months, the BC lower mainland has rallied together in the fight against Covid-19. Whether it’s staying home, social distancing, or fighting the pandemic on the front line, our communities are doing their part. Chatime Canada BC has decided that the best way to support our great communities in these troubling times is to do what we do best: bring a well-deserved smile (along with a needed pick-me-up) to the courageous front-line workers facing this pandemic head on at the various hospitals across the lower mainland.

National Bubble Tea Day is April 30th, 2020, and as part of the weeklong Chatime celebration the team at Chatime Canada has decided to partner up with local hospital foundations to support the nurses and doctors working over the course of the week. Beginning this Wednesday, Chatime Surrey, Chatime New Westminster, Chatime West Broadway, and Chatime Langara will be donating over 420 bubble teas, worth $2,500, to the front lines at the following times and locations:

  • Wednesday April 30th @ 12:00pm        Royal Columbian Hospital
  • Wednesday April 20th @ 4:00pm          Surrey Memorial Hospital
  • Thursday May 1st @ 1:30pm Vancouver General Hospital
  • Tuesday May 5th @ 12:00pm Mount Saint Joseph Hospital

Jaivin Khatri, Director of Operations, British Columbia, says: “We at Chatime have been inspired by the tremendous local support and outreach we are seeing, and we sincerely hope that this can brighten the day of our front line workers, and in turn inspire more businesses in our local community to also get involved.”

Chatime is the largest teahouse franchise in the world with over 2500 locations in over 38 countries. Chatime Canada opened its first location in downtown Toronto in 2011. Since then, Chatime has expanded across Canada, and is creating smiles and memories one steep at a time.

For more Information please reach out directly to:

Jaivin Khatri

Director of Operations, British Columbia

604-369-9977

Instagram: @chatimecanada

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