COVID-19 in B.C.: New cases exceed 400, aerosol transmission issues, 14 schools with exposures, and more

    1 of 5 2 of 5

      Unfortunately, B.C. has hit yet another new record high number of new cases, rising past the 400 case mark for the first time.

      Active and monitored have continued to increase for several consecutive days this week, and hospitalized cases also rose.

      There are also two new healthcare outbreaks, three flights and four venues with confirmed cases, and 14 schools with new exposure events.

      In other news, a man from New Westminster, who had his hot yoga studio shut down in March after making controversial claims about COVID-19, was arrested and is facing three charges for violating the Quarantine Act after he repeatedly failed to self-isolate upon his return from the U.S. 

      Aerosol transmission

      After there was debate a few months ago about whether or not transmission of the virus occurred due to aerosols, or microscopic airborne particles smaller than droplets, the Public Health Agency of Canada updated its guidelines this week to mention aerosols for the first time.

      “SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, spreads from an infected person to others through respiratory droplets and aerosols created when an infected person coughs, sneezes, sings, shouts, or talks,” the guidelines state. “The droplets vary in size from large droplets that fall to the ground rapidly (within seconds or minutes) near the infected person, to smaller droplets, sometimes called aerosols, which linger in the air under some circumstances.”

      When B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry was asked at today’s B.C. COVID-19 briefing about aerosol transmission, she said there is a continuum of how people can contract the virus involving droplets of varying sizes

      She said based upon information gathered from public health investigations, the main situations where transmission takes place involved people in close proximity in enclosed spaces, particularly in small spaces or with limited ventilation.

      She added that they are learning that the virus tends to transmit more easily in less humid and colder conditions.

      Accordingly, she emphasized the importance of reducing situations where the virus can transmit easily.

      As an example, she talked about an outbreak at a church in the B.C. Interior where there were less than 50 people at the service, where a lot of singing was involved. Despite practising health precautions such as physical distancing, several individuals tested positive. 

      A community outbreak had been declared after five cases were linked to church services on September 13 and 20 at Calvary Chapel in Kelowna.

      Henry also cited the example of spin classes, such as in Ontario where some 60 people were infected as well as one class in B.C. where 20 to 30 people were infected.

      “Right now, [indoor] spin classes in Metro Vancouver are dangerous,” she said. “We should not be doing those things.”

      B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix
      Province of British Columbia

      Daily update: November 5

      Henry announced 425 new cases today, which is yet another new record set within the past few weeks. The last record was set on November 1 when 389 new cases were reported. (The record high prior to that was 274 new cases on October 22).

      Today’s new cases include:

      • 268 new cases in Fraser Health;
      • 126 in Vancouver Coastal Health;
      • 18 in Interior Health;
      • 7 in Island Health;
      • 6 in Northern Health.

      There weren’t any new cases among people from outside Canada.

      Henry said that 11,020 tests were conducted, with a positivity rate of 3.8 percent, which is higher than previous weeks.

      Active cases have continued to climb for several consecutive days. Currently, there are 3,389 active cases, which is an increase of 269 people since yesterday.

      Hospitalized cases increased by five people since yesterday to 97 people now in hospital, with 24 of those patients in intensive care units (one less than yesterday).

      B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix said that includes 56 patients in Fraser Health, 40 patients in Vancouver Coastal Health, and one patient in Interior Health.

      The number of people who public health is monitoring due to exposure to confirmed cases continues to grow—with 386 more people added since yesterday, public health is now monitoring 7,519 people.

      There are two new healthcare outbreaks:

      • Tabor Home (31944 Sunrise Crescent) in Abbotsford, which had a previous outbreak in June;
      • Pinegrove Place (11331 Mellis Drive) in Richmond, where Vancouver Coastal Health imposed restrictions on November 4.

      The outbreak at Queen’s Park Hospital in New Westminster has been declared over.

      Active outbreaks are at 30 healthcare facilities, including 28 longterm care facilities and two acute-care units. Thus far, there have been a total of 1,118 cases (648 residents and 482 staff) involved in healthcare outbreaks.

      There haven’t been any new community outbreaks.

      Also, the outbreak declared after school exposure event from October 13 to 15 at École de l’Anse-au-sable (675 Lequime Road) in Kelowna, announced on October 20, has been declared over.

      Thankfully, there aren’t any new deaths. The total number of fatalities remains at 273 people who have died during the pandemic.

      A total of 12,806 people have recovered from COVID-19.

      A cumulative total of 16,560 cases have been confirmed during the pandemic, including:

      • 9,707 in Fraser Health;
      • 5,223 in Vancouver Coastal Health;
      • 821 in Interior Health;
      • 438 in Northern Health;
      • 281 in Island Health;
      • 90 people who live outside Canada.
      Tofino Brewing Co.

      Public exposures

      Fraser Health added two locations where public exposures took place.

      One was at Baselines Pub (8233 166 Street) in Surrey from 5 to 11 p.m. on October 23, 24, and 26, as well as from 9:30 to 11 p.m. on October 25.

      The other was at Willowbrook Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge RAM Dealership (19611 Langley Bypass) in Langley from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on October 24 and 26. However, this public exposure incident only applies to the shuttle bus and the service department.

      Island Health added an exposure incident at Tofino Brewing Co. (691 Industrial Way) in Tofino during business hours on October 27.

      Lobwlaw announced that three employees who last worked at the Shoppers Drug Mart (4295 Blackcomb Way) in Whistler on October 28 and 31 have tested positive.

      The B.C. Centre for Disease Control added these three domestic flights confirmed with COVID-19 to its list:

      • October 20: WestJet flight 3171 from Calgary to Comox, affected rows 6 to 12;
      • October 23: Air Canada flight 251 from Edmonton to Vancouver, affected rows 25 to 29;
      • October 26: WestJet flight 3172 from Comox to Calgary, affected rows 3 to 9.

      Anyone in the affected rows should watch themselves for symptoms for 14 days following the flight date. If you develop symptoms, immediately self-isolate and call 811 (if in B.C.) or your local healthcare provider.

      Okanagan Mission Secondary School

      Schools exposures

      Regional health authorities added exposure events at 14 schools to their lists.

      Island Health was the only health authority that didn’t report any new exposures at its schools. 

      Although Interior Health declared the outbreak at Kelowna’s École de l’Anse-au-sable as over, it added two schools in Kelowna with exposures:

      • Okanagan Mission Secondary School (4544 Gordon Drive) from October 28 to 30;
      • Springvalley Elementary School (470 Ziprick Road) on October 30.

      Northern Health added one school: Ron Brent Elementary School (1401 17th Avenue) in Prince George, which had an exposure incident on October 30.

      Vancouver Coastal Health added exposure events at four schools to its list.

      In Richmond, two schools had new exposures:

      • R.J. Tait Elementary School (10071 Finlayson Drive) had an exposure on October 30;
      • Kathleen McNeely Elementary School (12440 Woodhead Road) had an exposure event from October 28 to 30.

      In Vancouver, two schools also had new exposures:

      • University Hill Secondary School (3228 Ross Drive) had exposures from October 26 to 28;
      • Queen Alexandra Elementary School (1300 East Broadway) from October 26 to 30.
      Byrne Creek Secondary

      Fraser Health added exposure events at seven schools.

      In Burnaby, Byrne Creek Secondary (7777 18th Street) had an exposure on October 26.

      In Port Coquitlam, Cedar Drive Elementary (3150 Cedar Drive) had exposures from October 26 to 28.

      In Delta, Heath Traditional Elementary (11364 72 Avenue), which previously had an exposure incident on October 13, has had new exposures from October 27 to 29.

      In Langley, Langley Fundamental Elementary (21789 50th Avenue), which previously had an exposure incident on October 22, has added October 26 as a new exposure date.

      In Maple Ridge, two schools had new exposures:

      • Samuel Robertson Technical (10445 245th Street), which had a previous exposure event from October 26 to 27, had added October 28 and 29 as additional exposure dates;
      • Meadowridge School (12224 240th Street) had exposures from October 29 to 30.

      In Surrey, Sullivan Heights Secondary (6248 144th Street)—which had previous incidents on September 8, from September 30 to October 1; from October 13 to 15 and 19; and from October 20 to 22—has now added October 30 as a new exposure date.

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