COVID-19 in B.C.: Garibaldi Secondary investigation, cluster updates, mask campaign, 16 deaths, and more

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      Although case numbers are about the same as previous days, the number of deaths is high once again.

      The next two days will feature announcements about how the province will proceed in the coming weeks. 

      Tomorrow (February 4), B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry will join Education Minister Jennifer Whiteside and B.C. School Trustees Association president Stephanie Higginson to make announcements about enhanced health and safety guidelines for students and staff in school, and more funding for the safe operations of schools.

      Then on Friday (February 5), Henry will provide an update to the current temporary provincial health orders in place that are set to expire on that day.

      Health violations

      Pique Newsmagazine reported that a 32-year-old intoxicated Ontario man who refused to wear a mask and was allegedly abusive to airline staff at Vancouver International Airport on January 20 has been issued two violation tickets of $230 each.

      He was also fined $115 for public intoxication, for a total of $575 in fines.

      According to Emergency Management B.C., 806 violation tickets have been issued between August 21, 2020, and January 29, 2021, which includes:

      • 141 tickets of $2,300 fines to owners or organizers for gatherings and events;
      • 28 tickets of $2,300 fines for violating food and liquor orders;
      • 637 tickets of $230 fine to individuals for refusing to comply with law enforcement;
      • 90 tickets to individuals for violating the Federal Quarantine Act, for a total of $98,929 in fines.

      Antiracism and health awareness campaign

      Although it's been a year since the first case in B.C. was reported, misinformation and distrust of doctors, vaccines, and scientific sources remains a persistent issue.

      In response, the #HealthNotHate movement, involving media and marketing professionals, that launched a campaign last year to counter anti-Asian attacks due to the pandemic has released a new health awareness campaign.

      This new series involves five doctors appearing on public-service messages on buses to encourage social inclusion and mask wearing. 

      The doctors include:

      • UBC medicine professor and Vancouver General Hospital gastroenterologist Dr. Eric Yoshida;
      • UBC radiology clinical professor of Radiology and Vancouver General Hospital radiologist  Dr. Alison Harris;
      • VGH and UBCH psychiatry department head and medical director Dr. JJ Sidhu;
      • UBC clinical assistant professor and Providence Health Care and and Vancouver General Hospital cardiologist Dr. Michael Luong;
      • UBC associate clinical professor and VGH pathologist consultant Dr. Hui-Min Yang.

      “The connection between racism and health is a direct one,” Dr. Yoshida stated in a news release. “Healthy communities are inclusive communities and that’s why this message is so important and timely.”

      B.C. update: February 3

      Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix announced in a joint statement that there are 414 new cases (including seven epi-linked cases) in the province today. By region, that includes:

      • 182 new cases in Fraser Health (44 percent of new cases);
      • 108 in Vancouver Coastal Health (26 percent);
      • 63 in Interior Health (15 percent);
      • 34 in Northern Health (eight percent);
      • 26 in Island Health (six percent);
      • one person from outside of Canada (less than one percent).

      Currently, there are 4,426 active cases, which is 116 less cases since yesterday.

      Hospitalized cases have also decreased. Today, there are 278 individuals are in hospital (16 less people since yesterday) with 80 of those patients in intensive care units (two less people since yesterday).

      During the pandemic, B.C. has recorded a cumulative total of 68,780 cases.

      Public health is monitoring 7,049 people due to exposures to identified cases.

      Tragically, there are 16 new COVID-19-related deaths. That brings the total number of fatalities over the course of the pandemic to 1,234 people who have died.

      A cumulative total of 61,643 people have recovered.

      As of today, 142,146 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in B.C., and 6,417 of those are second doses.

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

      Outbreaks, clusters, and exposures

      There is one new healthcare facility outbreak at Burnaby Hospital. Although Fraser Health declared a previous outbreak at the hospital was over on February 1, a new outbreak has been declared in a medicine unit, where nine patients have tested positive.

      At the CareLife Fleetwood Surrey outbreak mentioned in yesterday’s briefing, Fraser Health stated that one resident and two staff members have tested positive.

      Interior Health stated that at the outbreak Heritage Retirement Residence in West Kelowna, which was mentioned in yesterday’s briefing as over, there were 46 cases involved: 41 residents and five staff. Unfortunately, four of the residents died.

      Interior Health also provided updates on three ongoing community clusters:

      • the cluster at Williams Lake has 37 new cases, bringing the total to 375 cases since January 1 (the cluster was declared on January 20), and 96 cases are currently active;
      • the cluster at Big White Mountain has five new cases, for a total of 231 cases since the cluster was declared on December 15 (145 of those cases are among those who live or work at Big White), with 16 active cases at the moment;
      • the cluster in Fernie (declared on January 27) has seven more cases, bringing the total to 98 cases since January 1, and there are currently 24 active cases.

      Henry and Dix also stated that public health teams completed the health investigation at Maple Ridge's Garibaldi Secondary School. The original case was confirmed as the B117 variant (from the U.K.) but the individual has since recovered and is no longer an exposure risk.

      Also, all 81 students and eight educators all tested negative. One positive test from rapid testing later proved to be a false test result. 

      Sobeys reported that one employee who tested positive last worked on January 30 at Thrifty Foods (5801 Turner Road) in Nanaimo.

      Loblaw added two stores to its list where staff members have tested positive.

      Two employees who tested positive last worked on January 28 and 30 at Wholesale Club (5335 Kingsway) in Burnaby.

      The other location was Real Canadian Superstore (7550 King George Boulevard) in Surrey, where an employee who tested positive last worked on January 30.

      Meanwhile, the B.C. Centre for Disease Control added only one flight confirmed with COVID-19 to its list:

      • January 28: Air Canada/Jazz Flight 8050, from Victoria to Vancouver, with affected rows 4 to 10.

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