COVID-19 in B.C.: New cases highest since April, infections among those in 20s, and surface contamination issues

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      For the second time this week, B.C. has hit a record high number of new cases over the past few months.

      With the B.C. Day long weekend upon us, B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix are urging everyone to continue practising safety measures while socializing.

      To address the spread of COVID-19 among those in their 20s to 40s, Dr. Bonnie Henry’s Good Time Guide has launched online with points about what to remember when hanging out with others.

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

      Daily update: July 31

      Dr. Henry and Dix issued a news release for today’s B.C. COVID-19 update.

      They announced that B.C. has 50 new cases (including five epi-linked cases). That number is a new high for the past few months, which exceeds the recent high of 41 cases on July 29 and is only surpassed by 58 cases back on April 27.

      Currently, there are 278 actives cases in B.C., with five people in hospital (two of those patients are in intensive care units). The number of cases in hospitals has decreased all week, while today's numbers remain the same as yesterday.

      The cumulative provincial total of people who have tested positive over the course of the pandemic is now at 3,641 cases.

      So far, there have been:

      • 1,088 cases in Vancouver Coastal Health;
      • 1,889 in Fraser Health;
      • 144 in Island Health;
      • 369 in Interior Health;
      • 88 in Northern Health;
      • 63 cases of people who live outside of Canada.

      Unfortunately, there is one new death (in Vancouver Coastal Health), raising the total fatalities to 195 people who have died.

      In addition, there is one new healthcare outbreak at Dania Home in Burnaby (in Fraser Health). Accordingly, there are now two active outbreaks in longterm care facilities and one in an acute care unit.

      There aren’t any new community outbreaks, but active outbreaks remain on Haida Gwaii and at Abbotsford’s Fraser Valley Packers.

      Also, community exposure events continue to take place throughout the province.

      A total of 3,168 people (87 percent of all cases) have now fully recovered.

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

      Weekly surveillance

      On July 30, the B.C. Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) released its weekly surveillance report for July 24 to 30.

      The report stated that there were 199 cases confirmed over the past week, with one-quarter of those cases among individuals in their 20s.

      The highest number of new cases were in the Lower Mainland. Fraser Health reported the highest numbers (115 cases), followed by Interior Health (45 cases) and Vancouver Coastal Health (25 cases).

      The most common source of infection was contact with a confirmed case or cluster.

      Hospital admissions and deaths remain low.

      Over the course of the pandemic, the largest number of deaths have also taken place in the Lower Mainland, with the most in Vancouver Coastal Health (108), followed by Fraser Health (79), Island Health (5), and Interior Health (2).

      There haven’t been any deaths in Northern Health or among those who live outside Canada.

      B.C. Centre for Disease Control

      Surface contamination

      While an international debate has cast doubts about how much the coronavirus can be transmitted from surfaces, a local study has examined surfaces contaminated with the virus in longterm care homes.

      Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) stated today that it led a study, published this month in the American Journal of Infection Control, of medical equipment that could be affected by COVID-19 contamination in longterm care facilities.

      VCH collected samples at three such facilities during outbreaks, including swabs from 89 surfaces, including entrances, nursing stations, care areas, kitchens, and staff communal areas.

      Of the 89 samples, six tested positive for the virus and, in all three locations, the virus was detected on reusable blood-pressure cuffs (four out of nine cuffs tested positive).

      Also, the virus was found on a mobile linen cart handle and on an electronic tablet (used for medication records).

      After preliminary findings, VCH took action by replacing shared equipment, such as blood-pressure cuffs, with disposable or dedicated equipment not shared between patients.

      “This study was done in sites with known outbreaks where enhanced cleaning was already in place, so we would hope that the virus would not be present on medical equipment that is moved from room to room,” the study’s lead author Dr. Atiba Nelson stated in a news release. Dr. Nelson is a public health and preventive medicine resident physician who led the environmental swabbing with a VCH team. “Although more research is needed to determine if this kind of contamination could contribute to transmission of the virus, it did highlight areas of concern.”

      VCH stated that the findings suggest medical equipment could be a source of virus transmission, and recommended avoidance of shared use of medical equipment and enhanced cleaning of equipment.

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