Black Press is providing full coverage of the COVID-19 virus (also known as the novel coronavirus) and how it impacts British Columbians and Canadians. For the latest stories, go to https://bit.ly/2WkxT3A.
The situation regarding COVID-19 is fluid and rapidly changing. All information in this article is accurate as of press time (noon on Tuesday, March 24), but could change rapidly and without notice.
If you have concerns about symptoms you might be exhibiting, do not go to the hospital or to a local health clinic. Instead, call Health Link BC’s 8-1-1 line, where a trained health care professional can answer your questions and direct you as to the best course of action. Please be patient, as the 8-1-1 line is experiencing heavier than usual call volumes.
COVID-19 self-assessment tool
The BC Ministry of Health now offers the BC COVID-19 Symptom Self-Assessment Tool, which will help you determine if you may need further assessment or testing for COVID-19. Go to https://covid19.thrive.health/ to take the test.
COVID-19 non-medical information line
In an effort to allow 8-1-1 health care professionals to support more people who are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or who require assistance with other health issues, the Province has created a dedicated phone service to provide British Columbians with non-medical information about COVID-19. This includes the latest information on travel recommendations and social distancing, as well as access to support and resources from the provincial and federal governments.
British Columbians can reach service representatives seven days a week, from 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m., by calling 1-888-COVID19 (1-888-268-4319).
The Villages of Ashcroft, Cache Creek, and Clinton are all responding to the COVID-19 pandemic with changes to municipal operations, facilities, and more. For the latest information, visit the relevant Village website or call the office.
Village of Ashcroft: www.ashcroftbc.ca, telephone (250) 453-9161.
Village of Cache Creek: www.village.cachecreek.bc.ca/, telephone (250) 457-6237.
Village of Clinton: https://village.clinton.bc.ca/, telephone (250) 459-2261.
The Community bus operated by BC Transit and Yellowhead Community Services is continuing to operate all regularly scheduled services. Additional cleaning of the bus is taking place.
All Thompson-Nicola Regional District Transfer Stations and Eco-Depots are open as usual during their regularly scheduled hours, but customers are being encouraged to limit their visits to these facilities, and can only bring bagged garbage generated inside the home and essential recycling such as cardboard, paper, and containers coming from the grocery store or pharmacy.
Until further notice, TNRD Transfer Stations and Eco-Depots will not be accepting yard waste; batteries; construction or renovation waste; used oil; tires; appliances; mattresses and furniture; electronics and small appliances; clothing donations; propane tanks; and scrap metal.
Free Disposal Days and Household Hazardous Waste Round-Ups will be postponed until further notice. These events typically take place in April and May, and the TNRD will determine new dates at a future time. Go to https://www.tnrd.ca/solid-waste-recycling for more information.
ICBC by phone
The B.C. government, ICBC, and broker partners are taking additional steps to help British Columbians access the insurance services they need without requiring in-person contact.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, insurance brokers will be able to conduct ICBC business, such as vehicle insurance renewals, by phone and email. ICBC customers will be able to receive the following services from participating brokers: vehicle insurance renewal, cancellation, and policy changes by phone; changes to storage policies (APV345) and temporary operating permits (APV16); receive transactions by email; submit signatures electronically; submit payments by phone; and receive policy documents by email.
ICBC customers are advised to give themselves ample time for renewals, as the transaction may take longer than usual. Those customers who have questions should contact ICBC at (250) 978-8300 or toll-free at 1-800-950-1498.
Driver’s licence renewals and payment deferrals now available
British Columbians can now extend their expiring driver’s licence remotely, as ICBC has adopted driver licensing measures to assist customers to stay home and follow public health orders on physical distancing and further protect employees during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Customers can renew their driver’s licence up to six weeks in advance of the expiry date by contacting ICBC’s Driver Licensing Call Centre at 1-800-950-1498, and temporarily extend their driver’s licence over the phone. The customer will be mailed an interim paper licence that will be valid for 90 days. Eligible extensions include routine renewals, reinstatement of a licence, and the replacement of a lost licence.
Expiring BC Services Cards and BC Identification Cards are not eligible for phone renewals. ICBC will monitor the situation and determine whether the 90-day period needs to be extended further.
In addition to this change, ICBC is now offering customers the option to defer their monthly insurance payments for up to 90 days with no penalty, to support those facing financial hardship at this time. This deferral will be available to customers already on monthly Autoplan payments for up to 90 days. ICBC previously allowed for only a single deferral of 30 days.
Customers can use ICBC’s online resource tool at https://bit.ly/2QYl1wz to apply for deferrals, or call the customer support team at 1-800-665-6442.
The WorkBC Centre in Ashcroft has made the decision to close Resource Centre and In-Person Services effective March 18. Staff will continue to deliver services over the phone, by email, and through video conferencing where possible. Case management appointments will take place via virtual methods as well. Staff are striving to continue to offer as many services as possible to keep employees, clients, and guests safe.
If you require service or have questions, call (250) 453-2499 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Service BC centres are remaining open throughout the province to connect people to core services and supports during this uncertain time. In order to ensure people’s health and safety, staff at Service BC centres are taking extra steps to regularly sanitize public and office spaces, and are modifying reception areas to support social distancing.
During the first hour of business, vulnerable citizens — including seniors and people who have underlying health conditions or compromised immune systems — will now receive priority service by calling their local Service BC centre to make an appointment.
Service BC is working closely with its partner agencies to identify the core programs and services that will continue to be available at Service BC centres. These include income assistance and disability assistance; residential tenancy; BC Services Card; drivers’ licensing; Affordable Child Care Benefit; Medical Services Plan (MSP); and forest-worker support programs.
For information about the Service BC office on Railway Avenue in Ashcroft, call (250) 453-2412.
Better at Home
All Better at Home services are continuing as usual for the time being, and are being reviewed on a regular basis. Any clients who are experiencing symptoms of any illness (including head colds and flu) are asked to call Better at Home at (250) 457-1019 to arrange for the postponement of services.
The Equality Project
The Equality Project clubhouse at 1260 Stage Road in Cache Creek is open from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Wednesday for take-out meals only.
Impact on surgical procedures
Interior Health (IH) has started postponing non-urgent scheduled surgeries. It is important to note that urgent and emergency procedures will not be impacted.
Patients with scheduled surgeries will be contacted by an IH booking clerk. In addition, for gastrointestinal and endoscopy procedures, patients may be contacted by their surgeon’s office. Patients should wait to be contacted directly about their procedure.
Some surgeries, including those related to cancer and scheduled caesarean sections, will not be impacted. Patients will be contacted to confirm date and time.
IH recognizes the significant impact of postponing surgeries. However, this is a necessary step to ensure there is enough hospital capacity for those affected by COVID-19, should there be a rapid increase in demand such as other countries have experienced.
Interior Health will assess this action over the coming weeks and will advise patients when their procedure has been rebooked.
Stay safe outdoors
The British Columbia Search and Rescue Association (BCSARA) represents 79 ground search and rescue groups across the province, made up of some 2,500 unpaid professional volunteers who average 1,700 responses throughout the province a year.
During these fast-changing times, where everyone is looking to maintain social distance but keep themselves busy, many are turning to B.C.’s great outdoors. BCSARA encourages people to enjoy what the province has to offer, but would like to ask the public to do their part to come home safe by following these recommendations:
· Go with someone else but keep your groups small (family members) to maintain social distancing, and tell someone where you are going and when you will be back.
· Stick to familiar and safe trails.
· Plan extra time to get back with plenty of daylight.
· Remember, it is still winter out there, with lots of snow on the ground. Wear appropriate footwear and clothes.
· If you do get lost, get in trouble, or get hurt, call 9-1-1 and let the operator know if you believe you may have been exposed to coronavirus, so rescuers can be protected.
If everyone takes these precautions, not only can you have an enjoyable, healthy, and safe trip outdoors, but B.C.’s search and rescue volunteers will be ready to assist others if needed.
For up-to-date, factual information about the COVID-19 virus, its symptoms, how to tell if you have it, how to prevent its spread, self-isolation requirements, and more, here are some sites to check:
HEALTH LINK BC has clear answers to commonly asked questions about COVID-19, including symptoms, prevention, treatment, and preventive measures: http://bit.ly/39RKeA2.
HEALTH CANADA has updates, travel advice, and more: www.canada.ca/coronavirus.
The BC CENTRE FOR DISEASE CONTROL has the latest updates on the COVID-19 virus, information, and guidance about mass gatherings: http://www.bccdc.ca/.
The B.C. PUBLIC HEALTH OFFICER and the MINISTRY OF HEALTH are providing daily updates on the coronavirus. Their news releases can be found at https://news.gov.bc.ca/ministries/health.
If you have questions about an individual event, facility, organization, or business, contact the organizers/operators directly.