Survey shows COVID-19 taxing on mental health

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COVID-19 has had a dramatic effect on mental health, a survey conducted in May shows.

Of the 394,000 people that completed the survey, 47 per cent said their mental health had declined during the pandemic. 

“I think this is a surprise to no one,” said provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.

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In addition, 33 per cent of respondents said they had difficulty accessing healthcare, and 15 per cent were worried about becoming food insecure. A further 69 per cent felt their work was impaired.

British Columbians between the ages of 18 and 29 reported greater mental health and economic stress than the general population. Families with children also report a greater burden.

Provincial health officials also announced the highest increase in daily COVID-19 cases in months.

Between Friday and Saturday there were 51 new cases, accounting for half of the weekend’s total cases. On Sunday there were 19 new cases, and today a further 32.

The total number of COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began is now 3,300.

Henry called the number of new cases “a warning to us.”

She said over 60 cases are related to recent exposure events in Kelowna.

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There were no new deaths over the weekend, no new community outbreaks and no new healthcare facility outbreaks. Active outbreaks continue at one long-term care facility and two acute care facilities.

While people who tested positive had a lower number of contacts earlier in the pandemic, the number of contacts for each positive case has risen recently. Henry said clusters of transmission are concerning, including parties or gatherings at restaurants, bars, clubs, resorts or homes.

“The challenge with that is that we may not know the people that we are in close contact with,” she said.

Those gatherings make it more challenging for public health teams to complete contact tracing in a timely way, preventing further spread.

“We’re starting to see an upward bend of our curve,” Henry said. “What this shows is that we do have a possibility of having explosive growth in our outbreak here in BC if we’re not careful in how we progress over the summer.”

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Most people have returned to 65 to 75 per cent of their normal pre-pandemic contacts, which poses a risk of a “rapid rebound.”

But, Henry said, British Columbians can still make a difference if they take precautions now. Safe social interactions, layers of protection, and “fewer faces, bigger spaces” are the key to success ahead.

“We still have it in our hands to make a difference on bending this curve,” said Henry.

For the latest medical updates, including case counts, prevention, risks and testing, visit: http://www.bccdc.ca/ or follow @CDCofBC on Twitter.

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