COVID-19 in B.C.: Increasing case numbers threaten to undo all the work from the past few months

    1 of 3 2 of 3

      Although B.C. did well in bringing the COVID-19 curve under control, both B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix expressed concerns that the continually rising numbers are threatening to jeopardize all of the preventative work over the past few months.

      At today’s B.C. COVID-19 update, Henry said that “we need to do better collectively to stop these exposure events from happening” and urged everyone to continue practising health measures. 

      Dix called the number of active cases “disturbing” and that although increases were expected, he said B.C.’s numbers are getting “too high”. 

      Daily update: August 10

      Dr. Henry provided updates for the past three time periods, from August 7 to 10. 

      The number of new cases over the past three days have all been about 35 cases.

      From August 7 to 8, there were 50 new cases; from August 8 to 9, there were 37 new cases; and from August 9 to 10, there were 44 new cases, for a total of 131 new cases over the three days.

      The number of active cases continues to ascend. Currently, there are 445 active cases. Nine people are in hospital (down from 11 on August 7), with three of those patients in intensive care units.

      Henry said that many of the new cases came from “young people at social events where they intermingled”. Through social network analysis, she said they have found “the vast majority of people who have tested positive over the past three days” and who were on their contact list. Dix clarified that by "young people", they are referring to those in the age range of 20 to 40 years old.

      In addition, public health is now monitoring 1,765 people who are in self-isolation due to being close contacts of confirmed COVID-19 cases.

      The cumulative provincial total of cases during the pandemic is now at 4,065 case, with 1,220 in Vancouver Coastal Health; 2,139 in Fraser Health; 148 in Island Health; 391 in Interior Health; 96 in Northern Health; and 71 cases among individuals who live outside Canada. 

      Unfortunately, there are two new healthcare outbreaks, both in the Fraser Health region. 

      One is at George Derby Centre longterm care facility in Burnaby (which is separate from but related to the Derby Manor where an outbreak is also taking place) and the New Vista Care Home, also in Burnaby.

      Accordingly, there are now eight active outbreaks in healthcare, with seven in longterm care facilities and one in an acute care unit. So far, there have been 673 cases (406 residents and 267 staff) in healthcare outbreaks.

      The good news is that this is the 10th consecutive day without any COVID-19 fatalities. As there aren’t any new deaths, there remain 195 people who have died in B.C. during the pandemic.

      Dix noted that B.C. has reduced the number of people who have died from COVID-19. However, he also pointed out that while eight people have died over the past four weeks in B.C., 48 have died in Alberta and 272 in Washington state, which illustrate the ongoing struggles taking place during the pandemic.

      B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix
      Province of British Columbia

      Exposure incidents 

      Although there aren’t any new community outbreaks, COVID-19 exposure events are continuing to occur in the province. 

      Fraser Health has listed an exposure incident at an event entitled Royal Jerk Spot Weekend Summer Fest Day and Night Rave (Endorsed by Royal Beauty). The event was held at Royal Beauty Supply (13553 105a Avenue) in Surrey. 

      The event was held from 10 p.m. on July 31 to 2 a.m. on August 1 and from 10 p.m. on August 1 to 2 a.m. on August 2.

      On August 7, Surrey RCMP announced the arrest of a 40-year-old suspect who allegedly was holding illegal parties at various locations in Surrey. 

      Meanwhile, Vancouver Coastal Health announced that the dates for three previously announced exposure incidents at restaurants and bars in Vancouver have been expanded.

      The potential exposure at PumpJack Pub (1167 Davie Street) in the West End has been extended by one day and is now listed on the evenings from July 31 to August 2.

      In addition, the potential exposures at West Oak Restaurant (1035 Mainland Street) and Pierre’s Champagne Lounge (1028 Hamilton Street) in Yaletown have been extended by four days, and are now listed as on the evenings from July 31 to August 7.

      An ongoing issue in food and beverage, nightlife, and hospitality industries remains the problem of patrons who are asking staff to break the rules in order to accommodate them.

      As the latest example of this behaviour, several news publications reported that a party bus with 25 people arrived on August 8 at the Living Room at Hotel Belmont on Granville Street. 

      The bar manager, who told News 1130 that this similar large groups have also shown up before, said they appeared shocked and angry when he turned them away. According to B.C. health guidelines, a maximum of six people are permitted at a table. 

      In addition, Hotel Belmont was the site of a COVID-19 exposure incident that took place on June 27 and 29. 

      Henry said we need to remind people about the guidelines and that they should not be putting staff and other people in those settings at risk.

      “Do not ask people to break these rules,” she said. “They are there for the safety of everybody in establishments like restaurants and bars, and other places.”

      She pointed out that businesses can be fined or shut down if rules are broken. 

      B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix (with provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry)
      Province of British Columbia

      Mandatory masks 

      Although B.C. has not made masks mandatory, British Columbians will have to wear masks in several specific locations. 

      CBC News reported that as of today (August 10), all visitors to SFU are being asked to wear masks in indoor spaces at its three campuses, located in Burnaby, Vancouver, and Surrey. 

      University Canada West, which had temporarily closed in March after a student was confirmed with COVID-19, announced that it is making masks mandatory at its two campuses for the autumn term. 

      Walmart Canada, which has over 400 stores in Canada, announced that all customers and staff will have to wear masks at their stores as of Wednesday (August 12). 

      As previously reported, TransLink and B.C. Transit are also making masks mandatory on all of their vehicles as of next week (August 24). 

      Air travel

      The B.C. Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) has listed more flights with COVID-19.

      Alaska Airlines flight 2930 from Seattle to Vancouver on July 31 has been confirmed with the coronavirus, affecting rows 12 to 14.

      Air Canada flight 304 on August 1 from Vancouver to Montreal has also been identified with COVID-19. Affected rows were not specified.

      Anyone on these flights or specified rows should reduce contact with others and monitor themselves for symptoms for 14 days. If anyone develops symptoms, the BCCDC advised individuals to immediately self-isolate and contact 811 (if in B.C.) or local healthcare authorities to arrange for testing.

      You can follow Craig Takeuchi on Twitter at @cinecraig or on Facebook.