COVID-19 in B.C.: Surrey food plant closed after outbreak, 24 deaths, 32 schools with exposures, and more

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      Although there are some signs of decreases in COVID-19 cases in some categories, the death roll remains high in the province.

      In an effort to stop transmission and reduce both cases and deaths, B.C. announced that it is increasing enforcement of COVID-19 health measures.

      That includes shifting virtual inspections to in-person visits, asking all officers and inspectors (including gaming investigators, conservation officers, community safety unit inspectors, and liquor and cannabis inspectors) to increase inspections and support police, and directing ICBC to eliminate its reminder period for unpaid accounts and send them directly to collections.

      Meanwhile, there is one new healthcare outbreak; updates on two worksite outbreaks; and three stores, nine flights, and 32 schools with new exposure events.

      B.C. update: December 16

      B.C. provincial health officer Henry and Health Minister Dix announced 640 new cases (including one epi-linked case) today. By region, that includes:

      • 399 new cases in Fraser Health;
      • 98 in Vancouver Coastal Health;
      • 91 in Interior Health;
      • 47 in Northern Health;
      • five in Island Health;
      • no one from outside Canada.

      Currently, there are 9,950 active cases—there are 90 less cases than yesterday, which is an encouraging sign as the number of active continue to decline.

      Today, there are 362 individuals hospitalized (one more person since yesterday), 91 of whom are in intensive care (two less than yesterday).

      Also continuing to decrease is the number of people whom public health is monitoring—with 230 less people since yesterday, public health is now monitoring 10,538 people (due to exposure to confirmed cases)

      Sadly once again, the death toll remains high. Henry and Dix announced 24 new COVID-19-related deaths, which brings the total fatalities in B.C. to 692 people who have died.

      A total of 32,376 people who tested positive have now recovered.

      During the pandemic, B.C. has confirmed a cumulative total of 44,103 cases, which includes:

      • 28,870 cases in Fraser Health;
      • 10,718 in Vancouver Coastal Health;
      • 2,998 in Interior Health;
      • 1,415 in Northern Health;
      • 799 in Island Health;
      • 95 people from outside Canada.

      With the vaccination having begun yesterday, Henry and Dix also stated that 409 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine were given to B.C. front-line health-care workers on December 15.

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

      Outbreaks and exposures

      One new healthcare outbreak had been declared at Sunrise of Vancouver (999 W 57th Avenue), where Vancouver Coastal Health imposed restrictions on December 14.

      Meanwhile, healthcare outbreaks at three facilities have been declared over:

      • Sun Pointe Village in Kelowna;
      • the special care unit at the Gateway Lodge in Prince George;
      • the family medicine unit of University Hospital of Northern B.C. in Prince George.

      Northern Health stated that the latter two were declared as a precaution, and that there hasn’t been any evidence of transmission at either of them.

      No new community outbreaks have been declared. In addition and once again, none of the five regional health authorities listed any new public exposure incidents.

      Today, Interior Health provided more details about the outbreak at the Teck Mining operations near Elkford, B.C. The outbreak has 27 confirmed cases at three sites:

      • Active water treatment facility construction project: 15 cases;
      • Fording River operations: eight cases;
      • Elkview Mine operations: four cases.

      These cases have residences in multiple jurisdictions, including Interior Health and Vancouver Island Health in B.C., as well as Alberta, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland.

      Meanwhile, Fraser Health announced that it has closed the poultry processing plant Wingtat Game Bird Packers in Surrey where an outbreak was previously declared on December 11.

      Fraser Health stated today that 30 employees have tested positive.

      Stores and flights

      Loblaw reported three of its Real Canadian Superstore locations had staff members who tested positive:

      • one employee who last worked on December 9 at 14650 104th Avenue in Surrey;
      • one employee who last worked on December 10 at 3020 Louie Drive in West Kelowna;
      • an employee who last worked on December 12 at 3000 Lougheed Highway in Coquitlam.

      The B.C. Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) added the following nine flights confirmed with COVID-19 to its lists:

      • December 8: Alaska Airlines/Horizon 2266, Seattle to Vancouver;
      • December 10: Air Canada 241, Edmonton to Vancouver;
      • December 10: Air Canada/Jazz 8069, Vancouver to Victoria;
      • December 11: Air Canada 63, Vancouver to Seoul;
      • December 11: Air Canada 115, Toronto to Vancouver;
      • December 11: Air Canada 128, Vancouver to Toronto;
      • December 11: Air Canada 201, Calgary to Vancouver;
      • December 11: Air Canada 223, Calgary to Vancouver;
      • December 11: Air Canada 566, Vancouver to San Francisco.

      Affected row information is available at the BCCDC website.

      Smithers Secondary School

      School exposures

      Four regional health authorities added new exposure dates to a total of 32 schools.

      Yet again, Island Health didn’t have any schools with new exposure dates.

      Vancouver Coastal Health had one school with a new exposure: St. Joseph’s School (3261 Fleming Street) in Vancouver from December 10 to 11.

      Northern Health

      Northern Health had six schools with new exposure dates.

      In Dawson Creek, Dawson Creek Secondary School (South Peace Campus, 10808 15th Street)—which previously had exposure events from September 23 to 25; and November 16 to 18—had a new exposure on December 8.

      Three schools in Prince George had exposures:

      • College Heights Secondary (6180 Domano Boulevard) had exposures from December 10 to 11;
      • D.P. Todd Secondary (4444 Hill Avenue) had exposures from December 1 to 2;
      • Heather Park Elementary School (7151 Heather Park Road)—which previously had exposure events from December 1 to 2; and on December 4 and 7 to 8—added December 3.

      In Smithers, Smithers Secondary School (4408 3rd Avenue) had exposures on December 7 and 10.

      In Terrace, Caledonia Secondary School (3605 Munroe Street)—which previously had two overlapping exposures from December 1 to 2; and one on November 30—had a new exposure from November 30 to December 4.

      Interior Health

      Interior Health had five schools that added new exposure dates.

      In Kamloops, the Kamloops School of Arts (1390 9th Avenue) had exposures from December 7 to 10.

      In Kelowna, three schools had new exposures:

      • Rutland Senior Secondary (705 Rutland Road North) in Rutland—which had previous exposure events from November 16 to 19from November 23 to 25 and 27; and from December 1 to 4—added December 7;
      • South Kelowna Elementary (4176 Spiers Road) in South Kelowna—which previously had exposures on November 27; from November 30 to December 2; and from December 3 to 4—added December 7 to 9;
      • Springvalley Elementary School (470 Ziprick Road), which previously had an exposure on October 30, added December 9 and 10.

      In Lake Country, George Elliot Secondary (10241 Bottom Wood Lake Road), which previously had exposures from December 2 to 4 and 7, added December 8 to 9.

      Upper Sumas Elementary

      Fraser Health

      Fraser Health had 20 schools with new exposure dates.

      In Abbotsford, two schools added new dates:

      • Abbotsford Traditional Secondary School (2272 Windsor Street), which previously had exposures from November 18 to 20, added December 8 to 11;
      • Upper Sumas Elementary (36321 Vye Road) had an exposure event from December 8 to 9;
      • Abbotsford Dasmesh Punjabi (5930 Riverside Street)—which previously had an exposure event from October 20 to 21; from November 17 to 19; from November 19 to 20 and 23 to 27; on November 30; from December 1 to 4; and from December 7 to 9—added December 10, 11, and 14.

      Three schools in Burnaby added dates:

      • Burnaby North Secondary (751 Hammarskjold Drive)—which previously had exposures on from October 8 to 9; from October 14 to 15; from October 28 to 30; from November 2 to 3; from November 9 to 10 and 12 to 13; from November 25 to 26; from December 3 to 4—added December 7 to 8;
      • Byrne Creek Secondary (7777 18th Street)—which previously had exposures on October 26; on November 18, 20, and from 26 to 27; on November 30 and December 1 and 4; and from December 7 to 9—added December 2;
      • Edmonds Community Elementary (7651 18th Avenue)—which previously had exposures on November 26, 27, and 30—added December 7.

      In Port Coquitlam, École Irvine Elementary (3862 Wellington Street) had exposures from December 7 to 9.

      In Chilliwack, two schools had new exposures:

      • Chilliwack Secondary (46363 Yale Road)—which previously had exposure events from September 22 to 24; from October 26 to 29; from November 3 to 5; from November 12 to 13; on November 17; from November 23 to 26; from November 30 to December 2; and on December 3—added December 2 to 4 and 11;
      • Unity Christian (50950 Hack Brown Road)—which had previous exposures on October 20 to 22; from October 26 to 29; on November 20; on December 4, 7, 8, and 9—added December 3.

      In Delta, Heath Traditional Elementary (11364 72 Avenue)—which previously had exposure incidents on October 13 and from October 27 to 29; and on November 3—added December 10.

      In Langley, Aldergrove Community Secondary School (26850 29th Avenue)—which previously had exposures on November 13 and 16; from November 30 to December 1; and on December 12—added December 7.

      In Mission, Hatzic Middle School (34800 Dewdney Trunk Road)—which previously had exposures on October 5 and 16; from November 3 to 4 and on November 6; from December 1 to 3 and 4; and from December 7 to 8—added December 9 to 11 and 14 to 15.

      Irvine Elementary School

      Surrey had eight schools with new dates:

      • Cloverdale Traditional (17857 56 Avenue), which had previous exposures from November 12 to 13, added December 7 to 9;
      • Elgin Park Secondary (13484 24 Avenue), which previously had exposures on November 10 and December 1, added December 3, 4, and 9;
      • Fleetwood Park Secondary (7940 156th Street)—which previously had exposure incidents on October 1; from November 18 to 20; from November 30 to December 2; from December 3 to 4; and December 7—added December 8;
      • Goldstone Park Elementary (6287 146th Street)—which previously had exposures on November 19, 20, and 23—added December 7 to 9;
      • L.A. Matheson Secondary (9484 122nd Street)—which had previous exposures on September 16 and October 9; from November 2 to 3on November 9, 12, and 16 to 20; from November 25 to 27; on November 30; and from December 1 to 4—added December 9 to 10;
      • Princess Margaret Secondary (12870 72nd Avenue)—which previously had exposures on September 11; on October 12, 15, and 16; on October 26 and 29; from November 2 to 5; on November 24, 26, 27, and 30; from December 1 to 4; and on December 7 and 8—added December 9;
      • Royal Heights Elementary (11665 97th Avenue)—which had previous exposures from November 2 to 4; on November 16 and 18—added December 7;
      • Semiahmoo Secondary (1785 148th Street)—which previously had exposure events from November 5 to 6; on November 10 and 12; on November 18 and 19—added December 9 to 11.
      You can follow Craig Takeuchi on Twitter at @cinecraig or on Facebook.