Health officials across BC are urging the public to work collectively to reduce the spread of COVID-19 as the calendar enter fall, especially with the number of new cases increasing.
In the daily briefing Thursday, Adrian Dix, Minister of Health, and Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s provincial health officer, announced 89 new cases of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
Five of those cases were reported in the Interior Health region, bringing the total number to 450.
There was one epi-linked case, for a total of 6,041 cases in British Columbia.
Dr. Bonnie Henry said “there are 1,1175 active cases of COVID-19 in the province, 2,801 people who are under active public health monitoring as a result of identified exposure to known cases, and 4,644 people who tested positive have recovered.
“Currently, 34 individuals are hospitalized with COVID-19, 11 of whom are in intensive care. The remaining people with COVID-19 are recovering at home in self-isolation.
“Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 2,012 cases of COVID-19 in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, 3,155 in the Fraser Health region, 178 in the Island Health region, 450 in the Interior Health region, 167 in the Northern Health region and 79 cases of people who reside outside of Canada.
“There has been one new COVID-19 related death, for a total of 210 deaths in British Columbia. We offer our condolences to everyone who has lost their loved ones during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"After many months of restrictions, we all have been feeling the need to reconnect with our family and friends this summer and many people across IH have been gathering in safe and creative ways – outdoors, physically distanced and in small groups,” said IH Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Albert de Villiers on gatherings and events.
"Of course, there are other events, including ones that typically happen annually, which this year cannot go ahead because of COVID-19. We know that this is disappointing for both the organizers and participants. However, let’s be clear that at the heart of all decisions is the health and safety of our communities and of each other. We need to work collectively to reduce the spread of COVID-19 as we enter the fall.
Dr. de Villiers said a provincial order related to Gatherings and Events lays out the guidelines for events. Organizers who believe their event should not fall under the order are able to apply for an exemption. When a request for an exemption is not approved, it is the role of Interior Health Environmental Health officers to uphold requirements in the order.
"Our Environmental Health team is working diligently on behalf of Interior Health residents to keep the spread of the coronavirus in check and protect the health of our population," Dr. Albert de Villiers said.
"As the result of their efforts, as well as the work of Public Health and our dedicated IH citizens, we are keeping the curve of the disease flat across this health authority. I would ask everyone to respect the work of our teams and accept that when an exemption for an event is not approved, it is in the best interest of everyone. As Dr. Bonnie Henry has said, this is not forever, this is for now."
Dr. Henry added, “there have been two new long-term care facility outbreaks at Cherington Place in the Fraser Health region and at Point Grey Private Hospital in the Vancouver Coastal Health region. The outbreak at the Maple Ridge Seniors Village has been declared over. In total, nine long-term care or assisted-living facilities and two acute-care facilities have active outbreaks.
“There have been no new community outbreaks, although there continue to be community exposure events.
“Alerts are posted on the BC Centre for Disease Control’s (BCCDC) website, as well as on health authorities’ websites, providing details on where the potential exposure occurred and what actions to take – whether you need to self-isolate or monitor for symptoms.
“With COVID-19 in our province, we have continued to adapt our approach as we learn more about the virus and what we need to do to protect ourselves and those around us.
“Today, we shared the latest modelling data. The data shows us that although we have been able to find our balance – keeping essential services and businesses going, while protecting our most vulnerable, we continue to have new cases and new clusters across the province.
“We know COVID-19 is going to be in our communities for many months ahead, so our focus needs to be on keeping our communities vibrant and healthy, and keeping new cases low by breaking the chain of transmission.
“Our well-being includes getting back to work, getting back into classrooms, keeping our businesses going and staying healthy.
“We simply have to look at the successes we have seen in recent months to show us what we need to do. Thousands of our restaurants have reopened, millions of trees have been planted this summer and many people have safely restarted recreational sports once again.
“However, as we look to the fall, now is the time to pause the activities that we know are a high risk to all of us – spending time with groups of people we don’t know without taking personal precautions.
“Now is also the time to think about the number of contacts you have. There is no ‘safe’ number, but fewer people is better. If you know you have more interactions ahead – for example, if you are returning to work – then it is a good idea to reduce your time with other contacts.
“This upcoming long weekend, choose to go small, to spend time with your household bubble instead of a group of strangers, and choose to use the layers of protection, wherever you may go.
“We have the tools and we can make the right choices. To be successful in this next phase, we need to step back to safely move forward, so let’s all make that choices that will keep our communities, our Elders, our loved ones and ourselves safe.”