COVID-19 in B.C.: Whistler update, Premier Horgan on border requirements and health violations, and more

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      At a news conference today, B.C. Premier John Horgan encouraged people to remain close to home on the B.C. Family Day long weekend, and to celebrate safely to usher in the Year of the Ox for Lunar New Year (February 12).

      He also answered several media questions about COVID-19 issues in the province.

      Yesterday, the federal government announced that as of February 15, anyone crossing the Canada–U.S. border at land entry points will need to provide COVID-19 test results. However, truck drivers and other essential workers remain exempt.

      When Horgan was if he will push for further screening at the border, Horgan said he is working regularly with federal government on these issues while Dr. Bonnie Henry is working with her colleagues as well.

      Regarding keeping supply chains open, he said that we “need to keep trucking active and ongoing” to ensure food and goods are in stores but he added “that doesn’t mean we relax our restrictions” or public health orders.

      Henry had mentioned at her briefing on February 8 that B.C. public health is closely watching for variants that are emerging in the U.S., particularly one in California in the Los Angeles area.

      When asked about what he thinks of the recent fines and arrests related to underground nightclubs in Vancouver and Surrey, Horgan said he believes law enforcement has “every intention of pressing charges” leading to court action in these examples, which he believes is appropriate.

      “When people are intentionally disregarding the well-being of other British Columbians, we need to have more than just a slap on the wrist, more than just a fine,” he said.

      He said he will leave those issues to the B.C. Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth and law enforcement, but he said that he is confident that most British Columbians are “rock solid” in following health and safety orders. 

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

      B.C. update: February 10

      Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix confirmed B.C. has 469 new cases (including five epi-linked cases) today. That includes, by region:

      • 243 new cases in Fraser Health;
      • 100 in Vancouver Coastal Health;
      • 53 in Northern Health;
      • 46 in Interior Health;
      • 25 in Island Health;
      • two people from outside of Canada.

      After yesterday’s increases, both active and hospitalized cases have decreased.

      At the moment, there are 4,305 active cases, which is a drop of 88 cases since yesterday.

      Currently, there are 230 individuals in hospital (11 fewer patients since yesterday), with 66 of those patients in intensive care units (two patients less than yesterday).

      Public health is monitoring 6,820 people for exposures to confirmed cases.

      Sadly, six new COVID-19-related deaths have brought the cumulative number of fatalities to a total of 1,269 people who have died during the pandemic.

      A cumulative total of 66,167 people have recovered.

      During the pandemic, B.C. has recorded a cumulative total of 71,856 cases, which includes:

      To date, 157,797 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in B.C., and 14,316 of those are second doses.

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

      Outbreaks and hotspots

      There is one new healthcare facility outbreak at Carrington Place Retirement Residence in Vernon. Interior Health stated that one resident has tested positive.

      Three healthcare outbreaks have been declared over:

      • Glenwood Seniors Community longterm care facility in Aggasiz;
      • Minoru Residence in Richmond;
      • an internal medicine unit at the University Hospital of Northern B.C., where Northern Health stated that 21 patients and 12 staff tested positive, and nine patients died.

      Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) stated in a news release today that transmission has decreased in Whistler compared to previous weeks. As of February 8, VCH confirmed 43 new cases in Whistler and an additional 24 cases with earlier symptom-onset dates for a total of 614 cases since January 1.

      While the majority of cases have been among young adults who live, work, and socialize together, Horgan reiterated today that when it comes to visitors, the main concern is not the activity of skiing or snowboarding, but the social gatherings held afterward,

      Henry had previous advised that for those who have to go to Whistler, day trips are safer than overnight ones.

      Stores and flights

      Loblaw listed four stores with staff members who have tested positive.

      Two are Shoppers Drug Mart locations:

      • one employee who last worked on February 5 at the 4303 East Hastings Street store in Burnaby;
      • one employee who last worked on February 7 at the 8677 Fraser Highway store in Surrey.

      Two employees who tested positive last worked on January 27 and February 7 at the Real Canadian Superstore (2855 Gladwin Road) in Abbotsford.

      One employee who tested positive last worked on February 6 at the Davie Street Your Independent Grocer (1255 Davie Street) in Vancouver.

      The B.C. Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) added the following five flights to its list with COVID-19 exposures:

      • Febuary 5: Aeromexico 696, Mexico City to Vancouver;
      • Febuary 6: WestJet 195, Calgary to Victoria;
      • Febuary 7: Aeromexico 696, Monterrey to Vancouver;
      • Febuary 7: Air Canada 45, Delhi to Vancouver;
      • Febuary 7: Air Canada 234, Vancouver to Edmonton.

      For affected row information, visit the BCCDC website. 

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