COVID-19 in B.C.: Vancouver Island case concerns, 32 bars with health violations, gold mine outbreak, and more

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      Case counts in B.C. remain approximately the same as yesterday. While there aren’t any new healthcare outbreaks, there is one new community outbreak.

      Although the Island Health region has had the lowest number of cases during the pandemic, the regional health authority issued a warning that ongoing increases in cases in one part of the region is cause for concern.

      In addition, Richmond RCMP stated today that it is continuing investigations into two large parties that police shut down on the night of February 5 to see if further charges apply. At both events, officers issued violation tickets to organizers and all attendees. 

      Vancouver Island cases increase

      Island Health issued a news release on February 10 to raise awareness about the region with the highest number of cases in Vancouver Island.

      As of February 10, 157 out of the 230 active cases, or 68 percent, in Island Health were located in the Central Island region, which includes Greater Nanaimo, the Cowichan Valley, Oceanside, and Alberni-Clayoquot.

      Island Health stated that the Greater Nanaimo area is undergoing a “worrying trend” with continual increases in new cases over four weeks in a row. The 93 new cases in Greater Nanaimo from January 31 to February 6 was almost double the number of the previous week.

      Although contract tracers aren’t finding widespread community transmission, what they have found are increased numbers of contacts by reported cases, with references to larger and more frequent social gatherings.

      Workplace inspection crackdown

      WorkSafeBC issued a reminder to food and beverage establishments on February 5 that it was conducting workplace inspections prior to and during the Super Bowl weekend to ensure COVID-19 safety plans were up to date.

      Inspectors found 32 bars and pubs in B.C. were in violation of provincial health orders out of 230 businesses inspected. Violations included failing to perform daily health checks for workers, lack of proper physical distancing, inadequate cleaning of high-touch areas.

      WorkSafeBC stated that as of January 29, inspectors had conducted 22,122 workplace inspections and 4,169 consultations, and a total of 1,667 orders had been issued for health and safety violations.

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

      B.C. update: February 11

      B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix announced in a joint statement that there are 449 new cases (including three epi-linked cases) in B.C today. By region, that includes:

      • 242 new cases in Fraser Health (54 percent);
      • 93 in Vancouver Coastal Health (21 percent);
      • 58 in Interior Health (13 percent);
      • 37 in Northern Health (eight percent);
      • 19 in Island Health (four percent);
      • no one from outside of Canada.

      Currently, there are 4,317 active cases, which is around the same number as yesterday (12 more cases since yesterday).

      Hospitalized cases have dropped by six people—today, there are 224 individuals in hospitals, with 63 of those patients (three fewer people since yesterday) in intensive care units.

      Unfortunately, there have been nine new COVID-19-related deaths since yesterday. The total number fatalities during the pandemic is now at 1,278 people who have died.

      Public health is monitoring 6,869 people due to exposure to identified cases.

      A cumulative total of 66,603 people (92 percent) have recovered.

      Over the span of the pandemic, B.C. has recorded a cumulative total of 72,305 cases, which includes (by region):

      • 42,810 cases in Fraser Health;
      • 16,608 in Vancouver Coastal Health;
      • 6,872 in Interior Health;
      • 3,939 in Northern Health;
      • 1,936 in Island Health;
      • 140 people from outside of Canada.

      Thus far, 159,887 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in B.C., which includes 15,684 second doses.

      Province of British Columbia

      Outbreaks and exposures

      Like earlier this week, there’s good news: there aren’t any new healthcare outbreaks.

      More good news is that outbreaks at healthcare facilities have been declared over at:

      • Hilton Villa Seniors Community in Surrey;
      • Bradley Centre in Chilliwack;
      • Jubilee Lodge in Prince George, where Northern Health stated that 48 residents and 14 staff tested positive, and 17 residents died.

      Northern Health announced today that a community outbreak has been declared at the Pretium Resources Brucejack Mine, a gold mine located north of Stewart, B.C., after evidence of transmission among workers have been detected.

      Northern Health stated that 22 individuals have tested positive so far and 14 out of 17 active cases are in self-isolation at the main mining camp. Worker travel to the site has been stopped while testing of the 485 employees at the location is being conducted.

      Northern Health stated that it and Pretium Resources have been monitoring cases at the site since early February.

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

      Two were Real Canadian Superstore locations:

      • three employees who last worked on January 31 and February 9 at the Metrotown store (1105 Eaton Centre, 4700 Kingsway) in Burnaby;
      • one employee who last worked on February 3 at the 14650 104th Avenue store in Surrey.

      The other two were Your Independent Grocer locations:

      • two employees who last worked on February 2 and 3 at Hakam's Your Independent Grocer (20678 Willoughby Centre Drive) in Langley;
      • one employee who last worked on February 7 at Sewak's Your Independent Grocer (8200 Bear Paw Trail) in Whistler.
      You can follow Craig Takeuchi on Twitter at @cinecraig or on Facebook.