COVID-19 in B.C.: Case numbers plateau, two more VGH outbreaks, eight flights with exposures, and more

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      For another consecutive day, the new case count remains above 400 and numbers in other categories remain about the same as yesterday.

      According to the B.C. Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) weekly situation report for February 6 to 13 that was released today (February 24), case levels had plateaued at a mid-range level while the number of severe outcomes have decreased.

      B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry had previously warned that case numbers remain too high and that B.C. remains susceptible to factors that could contribute to sudden increases, particularly with the COVID-19 variants present in communities.

      B.C. Centre for Disease Control

      Travel news

      The provincial government announced today that B.C. Parks will open reservations for backcountry camping on March 1 and for campsites on March 8 to British Columbians. B.C. residents will have priority for reservations until July 8, when reservations open up to those from outside the province.

      In health violation news, two female passengers aboard B.C. Ferries on February 21, who showed signs of alcohol intoxication, were escorted off for refusing to wear masks and yelling, screaming, and being abusive to staff. In Nanaimo, RCMP arrested them and held them in custody until they became sober.

      Nanaimo RCMP told the Georgia Straight that the women were apologetic after sobering up and officers decided not to pursue charges.

      Meanwhile, CTV News reported today that B.C. Ferries confirmed one of its employees at the Swartz Bay terminal on Vancouver Island tested positive but this individual did not have contact with the public. Other staff members who were in contact with the employee have been asked to self-isolate and seek testing.

      B.C. update: February 24

      Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix announced in a joint statement that there are 456 new cases (including two epi-linked cases) in B.C. today.

      By region, that includes:

      • 259 new cases in Fraser Health (57 percent);
      • 108 in Vancouver Coastal Health (24 percent);
      • 35 in Island Health (eight percent);
      • 30 in Interior Health (seven percent);
      • 20 in Northern Health (four percent);
      • four people from outside of Canada (less than one percent).

      Currently there are 4,668 active cases, which is a decrease of nine cases since yesterday.

      With one patient discharged since yesterday, there are now at 237 individuals are in hospitals, with 64 of them are in intensive care units (five fewer patients since yesterday).

      Public health is monitoring 7,924 people (43 more people since yesterday).

      Sadly, there are two new deaths. The total number of fatalities during the pandemic in B.C. is now at 1,338 people who have died of COVID-19-related reasons.

      A cumulative total of 72,219 people who tested positive have now recovered.

      B.C. has recorded a cumulative total of 78,278 cases in British Columbia, which includes:

      • 46,090 cases in Fraser Health (59 percent);
      • 18,085 in Vancouver Coastal Health (23 percent);
      • 7,271 in Interior Health (nine percent);
      • 4,437 in Northern Health (six percent);
      • 2,241 in Island Health (three percent);
      • 154 people from outside Canada (less than one percent). 

      As of today, 230,875 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in B.C., and 62,608 of those are second doses.

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

      Outbreaks and exposures

      Although there aren’t any healthcare outbreaks at any new locations, Vancouver Coastal Health stated today that there are two more units at Vancouver General Hospital (VGH) that have outbreaks.

      Vancouver Coastal Health stated that outbreaks were declared at inpatient units T14G and T11D in the Jim Pattison Pavilion. These units are now temporarily closed to admissions and transfers.

      Those are in addition the previous outbreak declared on February 21 in unit T10C at VGH.

      Meanwhile, Henry and Dix stated that Interior Health has declared the outbreak at Creekside Landing in Vernon as over.

      In addition, Fraser Health declared the outbreak at Burnaby Hospital to be over.

      Sobeys listed two of its stores with staff members who tested positive.

      One was a Safeway at 6401 120th Street in Delta, where an employee who tested positive last worked on February 18.

      The other was Thrifty Foods at 1551 Cliffe Avenue in Courtenay, where an employee who tested positive last worked on February 20.

      Loblaws added five stores with staff members who tested positive to its list.

      Two stores were Shoppers Drug Mart locations:

      • one employee who last worked on February 19 at the 1125 Davie Street store in Vancouver;
      • one employee who last worked on February 19 at the 700 Tranquille Road store in Kamloops.

      At the Real Canadian Superstore (2155 Ferry Avenue) in Prince George, two employees who tested positive last worked on February 12 and 13.

      In Dawson Creek, an employee who tested positive last worked on February 15 at the Dave's No Frills located at 1401 Alaska Avenue.

      An employee at Hakam's Your Independent Grocery (20678 Willoughby Centre Drive) in Langley who tested positive last worked at the location on February 19. 

      The BCCDC added these eight flights to its lists of public exposures:

      • February 13: Air Canada/Jazz 8239, Terrace to Vancouver;
      • February 15: Air Canada 114, Vancouver to Toronto;
      • February 15: Air Canada 224, Vancouver to Calgary;
      • February 15: Air Canada 314, Vancouver to Montreal;
      • February 17: Air Canada 242, Vancouver to Edmonton;
      • February 17: WestJet 136, Vancouver to Calgary;
      • February 18: WestJet 3450, Abbotsford to Calgary;
      • February 19: Aeromexico 9644, Mexico City to Vancouver.

      Affected row information is available at the BCCDC website.

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