Langford Mayor Stew Young says he believes urgent additional precautionary measures need to be taken to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, also known as the novel coronavirus.
An e-mail statement from the City of Langford says Young believes schools, including colleges and universities, must be shut down immediately as they have been in Ontario and Quebec.
“The virus spreads too fast, we can’t wait for it to affect our students and all of our communities,” the statement says. “We must take all available measures to slow it down.”
The statement continues to say that BC Ferries must confine people to their cars and ensure all high-touch parts of the ferries are cleaned constantly. In addition, the rule that doesn’t allow people the stay on the bottom deck should be “abandoned.”
“We have a serious world threat and it’s safer for everyone to stay in their cars than mingle on a deck or eating in a cafeteria,” the statement says. “Please get someone in federal government to wake up and let people isolate and stay in their cars on the lower deck.”
Young says the ferries between the Island and Washington State must be stopped and says “it would be prudent to stop bus tours as well” to avoid workers getting infected.
Those who are sick or who have just returned from travel should stay home for 14 days, the statement says.
As of March 12, the province confirmed seven more people in B.C. have been infected with the novel coronavirus, bringing the total to 53 cases and one death.
The World Health Organization declared the outbreak as a pandemic on Wednesday and since then, major sports organizations such as the NHL and NBA have postponed games until further notice. Larger events have also been cancelled.
Provincial health officials recommend people don’t travel outside of Canada.
In Victoria, large events, programs and gatherings are taking a hit after the province directed organizers to cancel events with more than 250 people in attendance.
Canada’s Transport Minister Marc Garneau said no cruise ships carrying more than 500 people will be allowed to dock in Canada until at least July 1.
The University of Victoria has also suspended international travel for students and staff and cancelled large gatherings including classes with more than 250 students.
While Young said the steps highlighted in the statement are “drastic and difficult,” he said. They “are the only way to slow down the spread of the virus and not overwhelm our health care system.”