COVID-19 in B.C.: Over 60 new cases, 12 flights with confirmed cases, testing centres expand, and more

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      Although today’s new case count is lower than yesterday’s (83 cases), the number of active cases continues to grow to new heights for a third consecutive day.

      In addition, 12 new flights and some Metro Vancouver shopping malls have had confirmed cases.

      Meanwhile, assessment and testing centres in the Lower Mainland are expanding and new locations are being established, as demand increases.

      Daily update: August 19

      B.C. deputy provincial health officer Dr. Réka Gustafson and Health Minister Adrian Dix issued a news release for today’s update.

      Today, B.C. has had 68 new cases. Currently, there are 798 active cases, with 2,452 people being monitored by public health due to exposure to confirmed cases. That’s an increase of 126 cases from yesterday’s amount of 2,326 people.

      After several weeks of low numbers of hospitalized cases, the number of cases in hospital has jumped from four to 10 patients, with four of those individuals in intensive care units.

      The cumulative provincial total during the pandemic is now at 4,745 cases. That total includes 488 cases in Vancouver Coastal Health; 2,493 in Fraser Health; 158 in Island Health; 411 in Interior Health; 120 in Northern Health; and 75 cases of people who live outside Canada.

      There aren’t any new healthcare outbreaks and the outbreak at the Richmond Lions Manor has been declared over. There remain active outbreaks at eight longterm care facilities and one acute-care facility. In addition, there aren’t any new community outbreaks.

      Some welcome news is that there aren’t any new deaths. The total fatalities remains at 198 people who have died.

      A total of 3,749 people are now considered recovered.

      B.C. deputy provincial health officer Dr. Réka Gustafson
      B.C. Centre for Disease Control

      Air travel and community exposures

      The B.C. Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) has added 12 flights—one of the largest numbers in recent months—to its list of potential sites of public COVID-19 exposures.

      The flights include:

      • August 2: Air Canada flight 210 from Vancouver to Calgary
      • August 3: Air Canada flight 561, from San Francisco to Vancouver
      • August 3: KLM flight 682, from Vancouver to Amsterdam
      • August 5: Air Canada flight 296, from Vancouver to Winnipeg
      • August 5: Lufthansa flight 492, from Frankfurt to Vancouver
      • August 6: Flair flight 8101, from Vancouver to Toronto
      • August 7: Air Canada flight 128, from Vancouver to Toronto
      • August 8: Air Canada flight 128, from Vancouver to Toronto
      • August 9: Air Canada flight 8328, from Vancouver to Winnipeg
      • August 10: WestJet flight 720, from Vancouver to Toronto
      • August 10: Air Canada flight 116, from Vancouver to Toronto
      • August 11: WestJet flight 720, from Vancouver to Toronto
      • August 11: Air Canada flight 116, from Vancouver to Toronto

      For affected rows, please visit the BCCDC COVID-19 public exposures webpage.

      Elsewhere in the city, two shopping centres reported confirmed cases but didn't provide specific details.

      CTV News reported today that an employee at Guildford Town Centre shopping centre in Surrey has tested positive. The mall stated on Twitter that it isn’t providing specific details, such as which store the employee was from, “out of a concern for privacy”, but said that the individual was last at the premises on August 11.

      Burnaby Now reported on August 18 that the Stay Fresh footwear store at Metropolis at Metrotown shopping centre in Burnaby has temporarily closed due to COVID-19 protocols. Stay Fresh stated that a staff member tested positive and was last at the location on August 10.

      The company also stated that all staff members are undergoing testing and isolation.

      Previously, a memo had been reported to have been issued to tenants at the shopping centre on August 7 after a staff member at the mall had been confirmed to be positive. However, the centre stated on social media that it cannot disclose any specific details, including which store or venue the individual worked at or any dates, “out of a concern for privacy”.

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

      Testing expansions

      Both Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) and Fraser Health, which cover the hardest hit regions in the province, announced new or expansions of assessment and testing centres today due to increased demand.

      VCH has opened a new assessment and testing site in the north parking lot of Vancouver Community College (East 7th Avenue, between Keith and Glen Drive), which operates from 9 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. every day for walk-ins and drive-throughs.

      While VCH will also open a new centre in North Vancouver in the next few weeks, it will also increase operating hours at Richmond and other centres.

      Fraser Health, which has 10 assessment and testing centres (in Burnaby, Surrey, Delta, White Rock, Port Coquitlam, Maple Ridge, Langley, Mission, Abbotsford, and Chilliwack), is expanding operating hours at three centres. The Burnaby assessment and testing centre will have extended hours (noon to 8:30 p.m. every day all week). Meanwhile the Delta centre will have new, extended hours of 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. from Monday to Friday and 8 a.m. to noon on Saturdays. The Chilliwack centre will have one additional operating day: Saturdays from 8 a.m. to noon.

      At the Langley and Burnaby centres, greeters will help to manage lineups and ensure only people with symptoms are present for assessment or testing.

      A testing-only lane is being introduced at the Surrey-Whalley Urgent and Primary Care Centre (for those directed by medical practitioners to receive testing without an assessment), and traffic control will be used at the Langley centre.

      More additions to be introduced over the next few weeks will include:

      • two more drive-through lanes at the Burnaby centre;
      • more staff at the Langley centre, and new, extended hours from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. all week;
      • new, extended hours at the Abbotsford centre from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. all week;
      • new, temporary high-volume centres in Surrey and the Fraser Northwest area;
      • online and phone pre-booking and pre-registration for assessment and testing to be centralized.

      Gustafson and Dix stated that B.C. is currently capable of completing approximately 8,000 tests every day.

      Feedback on road changes

      The City of Vancouver is seeking input and feedback about the temporary road changes that were made during the lockdown period of the pandemic.

      Among the changes were the approval of 360 temporary patios at eateries, the creation of pop-up plazas and parklets, using traffic calming measures to create “slow streets” to allow for more pedestrians and cyclists, expanding lineup spaces at bus stops, providing street space on Beach Avenue for pedestrians and cyclists, and making more room on narrow sidewalks.

      Anyone interested in providing thoughts about these changes, which will be considered for future decision-making and whether these measures should be modified or maintained, can do so online until September 6.

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