COVID-19 in B.C.: Over 800 new cases, and Dr. Bonnie Henry on sports, travel, schools, and more

Dr. Bonnie Henry talked about a B.C. hockey team that defied travel restrictions, leading to cases and community transmission after a trip to Alberta

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      The number of new cases rose high again and the numbers of deaths also remained high.

      B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said that they have seen a levelling off of cases in Fraser Health and Vancouver Coastal Health.

      However, she added that what they have seen is rapid growth in the three other health authorities: Interior Health, Northern Health, and—to a lesser extent—Island Health.

      Also, she said a B.C. hockey team violated her orders against travel and brought back several positive cases that have contributed to community transmission here.

      Henry talked about this incident, as well as about her orders for sports, fitness, and events; the need to avoid travel; and school issues at today’s in-person B.C. COVID-19 briefing.

      Meanwhile, there are three news healthcare outbreaks, and three stores and three flights with confirmed cases, plus one supermarket that has temporarily closed after several cases have been confirmed at the location in recent weeks.

      There are also updates on the Revelstoke community cluster and the Burnaby Hospital outbreak.

      Travel and sports

      Once again, Henry asked everyone “in the strongest of terms” not to travel unless it is essential.

      Anyone who does have to travel, including those arriving here from outside B.C., needs to follow the health guidelines here, she emphasized.

      When asked if she would ask B.C. Ferries to conduct essential travel checks before boarding to prevent transmission to various B.C. islands, Henry said she doesn’t feel it is the responsibility of B.C. Ferries to do so, and which she said is challenging to undertake.

      She said that there are many reasons people have to travel for essential reasons and that it is everyone’s responsibility to ensure they are only conducting essential travel.

      Meanwhile, Henry said that an older adult hockey team in the B.C. Interior disobeyed her restrictions against sports travel. She said they travelled to Alberta to play and came back with some individuals who became infected, resulting in “dozens of people who are infected” and leading to transmission in their B.C. communities. She added that it also involved several businesses being affected and healthcare being impacted as well.

      However, she added that this case isn’t unique—she said that she has heard from her colleagues that there are other similar examples elsewhere in the province as well.

      Henry said detailed amended orders on events—including sports, drive-through events, and seasonal light displays—will be posted today, which will remain in effect until Monday (December 7).

      She said they are developing advanced guidelines for indoor activity, which will be ready by next week.

      Indoor high-intensity group fitness—including hot yoga, spin classes, high-intensity interval training, and more—is “prohibited indefinitely”, she said. 

      Low-intensity group fitness activity are “on pause” until guidelines are available next week.

      Additional restrictions are being added to adult team sports indoors, which have been identified as higher risk activities, Henry explained.

      When asked if she would extend her current health orders beyond December 7, she said they are considering all options but will wait until December 7 before announcing any decisions.

      School issues

      When asked about why some parents are stating that there are delays in being notified that their children may have been exposed to confirmed cases at school, Henry said there is a team leading efforts (including the Education Ministry) to updating exposure notifications more efficiently.

      She said it can be challenging because it can take time after someone is tested to identify that they were in school.

      Once again, she reiterated that transmission remains rare in schools, and when it does happen, she said it usually spreads to only one or two other people at the most.

      She had previously said that transmission rarely happens from children to others.

      So far, there have been three schools closed due to declared outbreaks, with three other schools closed due to clusters. 

      When asked about why masks aren’t made mandatory in schools, Henry said masks are “very much a part of the COVID safety plans in schools” and have been since the beginning. She said everyone in schools have to wear masks in all areas where mixing of people can occur.

      She said the only place where students don’t have to wear masks is at their desks.

      Today, there were 39 schools with new exposure dates. For more details, see this article.

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

      B.C. update: December 2

      Henry announced there are 834 new cases (including three epi-linked cases) in B.C. today. (The record is 911 cases on November 27.)

      By region, that includes:

      • 529 cases in Fraser Health;
      • 174 in Vancouver Coastal Health;
      • 66 in Interior Health;
      • 45 in Northern Health;
      • 20 in Island Health.

      Although active cases decreased yesterday, the number has resumed climbing higher. Currently, there are 8,941 active cases, which is 145 more cases than yesterday.

      The number of hospitalized cases stabilized today. There are currently 337 people in hospital—which is only one more person than yesterday—with 79 of those patients in intensive care units, which is three more patients than yesterday.

      After a few days of decreases, the number of people who public health is monitoring rose again—this time to 10,201 people (for exposure to confirmed cases), which is an increase of 78 people since yesterday.

      Tragically, there were 12 new deaths. The total number of COVID-19-related fatalities in B.C. during the pandemic is now at a total of 469 people who have died.

      A cumulative total of 24,424 people have now recovered.

      B.C. has recorded a cumulative total of 34,728 cases, which includes:

      • 22,007 cases in Fraser Health;
      • 9.164 in Vancouver Coastal Health;
      • 1,899 in Interior Health;
      • 905 in Northern Health;
      • 659 in Island Health;
      • 94 people from outside Canada.
      Saanich Peninsula Hospital

      Outbreaks

      Unfortunately, there are three new healthcare outbreaks:

      • Royal City Manor (77 Jamieson Court) in New Westminster, where Fraser Health stated that one resident has tested positive;
      • Saanich Peninsula Hospital (2166 Mt Newton X Road) in Saanichton, where Island Health, which declared an outbreak on December 1, stated that five patients and one staff member tested positive and that the emergency department remains open;
      • West Coast General Hospital (3949 Port Alberni Highway) in Port Alberni, where Island Health declared an outbreak on December 1 after evidence of transmission in one unit in the medical-surgical B-wing where one staff member and one patient tested positive—Island Health stated that the hospital remains open.

      The good news is that three outbreaks at longterm care facilities have been declared over:

      • Cottage-Worthington Pavilion in Abbotsford;
      • Discovery Harbour in Campbell River;
      • Orchard Manor in Kelowna.

      There are also outbreaks at two acute care units that have been declared over:

      • Burnaby Hospital in Burnaby;
      • Langley Memorial Hospital in Langley.

      There are now 54 longterm care facilities and seven intensive care units for a total of 61 active outbreaks in healthcare facilities. At the moment, there are 1,472 active cases in healthcare outbreaks, including 926 residents and 536 staff.

      After Henry’s update, Fraser Health also stated in a news release that the outbreak at Jackman Manor in Aldergrove is over (which may not have been included in Henry’s update).

      Also, Fraser Health stated that the outbreak at the Harrison at Elim Village in Surrey, which Henry announced yesterday, now has three staff members and six residents who have tested positive.

      Meanwhile, there are also two new community outbreaks:

      • Cove Shelter (10776 King George Boulevard) in Surrey, where Fraser Health stated 17 people who recently worked at or accessed site services have tested positive;
      • Millennium Pacific Greenhouses (3752 Arthur Drive) in Delta, where Fraser Health stated that 10 employees tested positive.
      Revelstoke
      SMJoness/Getty Images

      Outbreak updates

      Interior Health provided an update on December 1 about the community cluster in Revelstoke, previously announced on November 26.

      Interior Health stated that there are now 46 cases associated with the cluster, with 32 of those cases currently active.

      An exposure event at École des Glaciers Elementary School in Revelstoke on November 23 is related to this cluster as well, according to Interior Health.

      Fraser Health stated that Burnaby Hospital has resumed regular admissions through the emergency department, following restoration after the fire on November 15.

      There are now 60 patients and 43 staff who have tested positive at the hospital as a result of an outbreak (declared on November 10) that was complicated by the emergency response to the fire. Fraser Health stated that 10 people have now died of COVID-19.

      Stores and flights

      Loblaw announced staff members tested positive at three Real Canadian Superstore locations:

      • three employees who last worked on 19, 20, and 23 at the 3185 Grandview Highway store in Vancouver;
      • one employee who last worked on November 24 at the 1301 Lougheed Highway store in Coquitlam;
      • one employee who last worked on November 28 at the 7550 King George Boulevard store in Surrey.

      T&T Supermarket announced that it is voluntarily closing its location at 2740–2929 Barnet Highway in Coquitlam today (November 2) after five employees (who last worked there on November 13, 15, 17, 19, and 21) have tested positive over the past few weeks. The store will undergo sanitization and will reopen on Saturday (December 5).

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

      • November 20: Delta 7131, Toronto to Vancouver, affected rows 1 to 5;
      • November 24: Air Canada 234, Vancouver to Edmonton, affected rows 20 to 26;
      • November 27: Air Canada 241, Edmonton to Vancouver, affected rows 14 to 24.

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