COVID-19 in B.C.: Over 700 new cases, record number of deaths, 13 schools with new exposures, and more

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      Update (November 26):

      Due to data error from Fraser Health, B.C. announced corrected case counts for Fraser Health and the province. For more on the data correction, see this article

      Original article (November 17):

      Once again, it’s not good news—B.C. has hit two new unfortunate records.

      There are also 13 schools (one regional health authority was unable to update its list today), five flights, and five stores with exposure events, and one healthcare outbreak.

      In other news, a nightlife venue in Campbell River on Vancouver Island has been fined twice for failing to follow health orders despite warnings.

      Also, B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry issued a statement yesterday to clarify her position on wearing masks in B.C.

      Travel warning

      In a joint statement today, Henry and B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix said that cases are being spread from Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley to other parts of the province due to travel.

      "We have seen an increase in new cases on Vancouver Island, in the Interior and in the North, many of which are connected to travel to and from the Lower Mainland,” they stated, although they didn’t provide specific numbers.

      When Henry had previously announced her new health orders on November 7, she had said that no one should be travelling in and out of the Vancouver Coastal Health and Fraser Health regions, unless it is essential.

      Yukon’s chief medical health officer Dr. Brendan Hanley had advised Yukoners against travel to B.C., unless necessary, due to the escalating case numbers here.

      Yukon Premier Sandy Silver said today that the territory’s travel bubble with B.C. will remain open. The territory, which has 25 confirmed cases and one death, has not traced any cases to B.C. 

      However, the sudden spike in cases in Nunavut has raised concerns among the territories. Nunavut had its first case on November 6 but has since mushroomed to 60 active cases as of today.

      COVID-19 update: November 17

      Henry and Dix announced that there are 717 new cases of COVID-19 (including one epi-linked case) in B.C. today.

      That sets another new record, surpassing 659 cases on November 15.

      By region, the new case count includes:

      • 484 new cases in Fraser Health;
      • 177 in Vancouver Coastal Health;
      • 21 in Northern Health;
      • 18 in Interior Health;
      • 16 in Island Health;
      • one person from outside Canada.

      Active cases have increased by 310 people since yesterday to a new total of 6,589 active cases today.

      Hospitalizations increased once again. With 17 new people admitted to hospitals, there are now 198 individuals in hospital, with 63 of those patients in intensive care (six more people than yesterday).

      After the number of people who public health is now monitoring (due to exposure to confirmed cases) dropped by over 1,000 on the weekend, the number only slightly grew today by 32 more people to a total of 10,960 people.

      There’s grim news—B.C. announced the largest number of deaths for one day during the pandemic: 11 new COVID-19-related deaths, which brings the total number of fatalities to 310 people who have died during the pandemic.

      The previous most number of deaths for one day was seven on April 13.

      A total of 16,469 people (70 percent of all cases) have now recovered.

      During the pandemic, B.C. has recorded a cumulative total of 23,661 cases in the province, which includes:

      • 14,659 in Fraser Health;
      • 6,869 in Vancouver Coastal Health;
      • 1,106 in Interior Health;
      • 539 in Northern Health;
      • 397 in Island Health;
      • 91 people from outside Canada.
      B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix
      Province of British Columbia

      Outbreaks and public exposures

      Island Health declared one new healthcare outbreak at Tsawaayuss-Rainbow Gardens (6151 Russell Place) in Port Alberni, where one staff member at the longterm care home has tested positive.

      There are now 49 active outbreaks in healthcare facilities. 

      In addition, while Burnaby Hospital has been contending with COVID-19 outbreaks, a fire broke out on the evening of November 15. Although its emergency department was temporarily closed, it reopened on November 16 for walk-in patients who are able to return home after treatment.

      Meanwhile, there aren’t any new community outbreaks.

      Sobey announced that staff members have tested positive at these Chalo FreshCo locations:

      • 7165 138th Street in Surrey, where the positive employee last worked on November 8;
      • 100–32500 South Fraser Way in Abbotsford, where the positive employee last worked on November 11.

      Loblaw announced three store locations where staff members have tested positive:

      Two were at Real Canadian Superstore locations:

      • 19851 Willowbrook Drive in Langley, where four employees who tested positive last worked at the store on November 6, 9, 10, and 13;
      • 2855 Gladwin Road in Abbotsford, where the positive employee last worked on November 13.

      Also, an employee who last worked at a Shoppers Drug Mart (6060 Minoru Blvd) in Richmond on November 7 has tested positive.

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

      • November 9: WestJet 119, Calgary to Vancouver;
      • November 10: Air Canada 239, Edmonton to Vancouver;
      • November 10: Air Canada 8201, Vancouver to Prince George;
      • November 10: Air Canada 8571, Regina to Vancouver;
      • November 15: WestJet 195, Calgary to Victoria.

      For affected row information, visit the BCCDC website.

      Chetwynd Secondary School

      School exposures

      Fraser Health stated that it is currently unable to update its school exposures list due to technical difficulties. Island Health didn’t report any new exposures at its schools. Other regional health authorities added new exposure dates for 13 schools.

      Northern Health added two schools with new exposures.

      In Chetwynd, Chetwynd Secondary School (5000 46th Street Northeast) had an exposure incident on November 13.

      In Prince George, Van Bien Elementary School (311 Wilson Crescent) had an exposure event from November 9 to 10.

      Interior Health added one school in Kelowna: École Élémentaire Casorso Elementary School (3675 Casorso Road), which previously had exposures from November 5 to 6, had a new exposure event from November 9 to 10.

      David Thompson Secondary School

      Vancouver Coastal Health added new exposures for 10 schools.

      In Vancouver, five schools had new exposure dates:

      • David Oppenheimer Elementary School (2421 Scarboro Avenue) had exposures from November 9 to 10;
      • David Thompson Secondary School (1755 East 55th Avenue) had exposures from November 9 to 10;
      • St. George's Junior School (3851 West 29th Avenue) had exposures from November 9 to 10 and on November 13;
      • Notre Dame Regional Secondary School (2880 Venables Street), which had a previous exposure on October 8, had new exposures from November 9 to 10;
      • St. Andrew’s Elementary (450 East 47th Avenue), which had a previous exposure on September 29, had a new exposure event from November 9 to 10.

      In Richmond, five schools had new exposure dates:

      • École Secondaire Hugh McRoberts Secondary School (8980 Williams Road) had exposures from November 9 to 10 and on November 12;
      • Hamilton Elementary School (5180 Smith Drive), which previously had an exposure event from November 5 to 6, had new exposure events from November 4 to 5 and 9 to 10;
      • William Cook Elementary (8600 Cook Road), which had exposures from November 9 to 10 and on November 12;
      • R.C. Talmey Elementary (9500 Kilby Drive), which had exposures from November 9 to 10;
      • Richmond Secondary School (7171 Minoru Boulevard), which previously had exposures from October 7 to 9 and November 2 to 3, had a new exposure event from November 9 to 10. 
      You can follow Craig Takeuchi on Twitter at @cinecraig or on Facebook.