Cowichan Valley Medical Health Officer Dr. Shannon Waters says a recent increase in COVID-19 cases is not unexpected.

Dr. Waters says a higher number of cases had been predicted for this time of year when the weather is colder and people are spending more time indoors.

She says people are also feeling the impact of not being able to see loved ones or gather together as before the pandemic.

She warns, however, that the vaccine rollout will take time and over the next few months we need to hold fast to the ways that have been shown to prevent transmission.

Dr. Waters encourages people to find ways to “keep our minds and spirits up,” and recommends getting outside to do “all things that can help keep us in the best space, mentally, emotionally, to be holding the course.”

As the spring break for schools approaches, Dr. Water recommends staying close to home, “international travel is still not something that is going to be beneficial to what we’re trying to do to keep our case numbers low here in our region.”

Dr. Waters highly recommends people get out and enjoy the outdoor recreation their local area has to offer.

On Friday, the federal government announced restrictions on flights, mandatory testing and isolation in designated hotels for people who return from international trips while awaiting the results, and a limit on the number of airports where international flights can land.

Ottawa continues to strongly advise against non-essential travel outside Canada, saying as new variants of COVID-19 emerge, more than ever before people should be staying home.