COVID-19 in B.C.: First school outbreak declared, another record high for new cases, and more

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      For the second time this week, British Columbia has established a record number of new cases.

      Active cases and monitored people continue to grow in numbers, and there are three new healthcare outbreaks and 11 flights confirmed with COVID-19.

      In addition, B.C. has declared its first outbreak at a school.

      In today’s news release, B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Deputy Health Minister Stephen Brown said that many life-event and family-based gatherings are leading to increases in new cases.

      “Many of the new cases and recent community clusters of COVID-19 are directly connected to weddings, funerals, and celebrations of life,” they stated.

      They stated that the spread of the virus at those events, in turn, are leading to transmission at healthcare facilities, workplaces, and schools.

      B.C. update: October 22

      Henry and Brown announced that there are 203 new cases (including three epi-linked cases) in B.C. today.

      That’s the second time this week that B.C. has recorded a record for new cases in one day, and it's the first time the province had gone above the 200-case mark. The previous record was set on October 19 with 174 new cases.

      The number of active cases continue to climb—we’re up to 1,766 active cases now, which is an increase of 78 people since yesterday.

      Hospitalized cases increased by one person to 70 patients in hospital, with 21 of those patients in intensive care (three more than yesterday).

      Public health is monitoring 4,294 people—an increase, for another consecutive day, of 138 individuals.

      Three new healthcare outbreaks have been announced:

      • Three Links Care Centre (2934 East 22nd Avenue) in Vancouver;

      • Fort Langley Seniors Community (8838 Glover Road) in Langley;

      • Baillie House (11762 Laity Street) in Maple Ridge.

      Outbreaks at Harrison West at Elim Village in Surrey and White Rock Seniors Village in White Rock have been declared over.

      A total of 20 outbreaks are active in healthcare facilities: 18 in longterm care or assisted-living facilities and two in acute-care facilities.

      Unfortunately, two new deaths were announced, bringing the total fatalities to 256 people who have died during the pandemic.

      A total of 9,993 people have now recovered.

      Since the start of the pandemic, there has been a cumulative total of 12,057 cases reported in British Columbia, including:

      • 6,517 in Fraser Health;

      • 4,215 in Vancouver Coastal Health;

      • 632 in Interior Health;

      • 361 in Northern Health;

      • 244 in Island Health;

      • 88 people from outside Canada.

      École de l’Anse-au-sable in Kelowna

      School exposures

      A school exposure event from October 13 to 15 at École de l’Anse-au-sable (675 Lequime Road) in Kelowna that was announced yesterday has now been declared an outbreak, which is the first at a school during the pandemic.

      Henry and Brown stated in their news release that approximately 160 members of the school community are undergoing self-isolation for 14 days while monitoring for symptoms.

      Interior Health will provide updates during the ongoing investigation.

      On October 1, Henry had explained the differences in definitions of exposures, cluster, and outbreaks. She said an outbreak in a school setting is “when we have ongoing transmission and we’re not clear who has been transmitted to who”, and widespread transmission is taking place between groups of classes or learning groups in a school.

      Fraser Health had four schools with new exposure incidents.

      In Surrey, there were two schools with new exposure dates:

      • Kennedy Trail Elementary (8305 122a Street), which previously had an exposure event from September 15 to 17, has had a new exposure incident from October 14 to 16;
      • Diamond Elementary School (18620 56th Avenue), which previously had an exposure event from October 1 to 2, and has had a new incident on October 15.

      In Maple Ridge, the outreach alternative program at Maple Ridge Secondary School (21911 122 Avenue) had an exposure event from October 13 to 15.

      In Abbotsford, Rick Hansen Secondary (31150 Blueridge Drive)—which previously had exposures on October 6, 7, and 13—has added an exposure event from October 14 to 16. 

      Northern Health added one school: Notre Dame School (908 104 Avenue) in Dawson Creek with October 13 to 14 as exposure dates.

      Meanwhile, Vancouver Coastal Health, Interior Health, and Island Health didn’t add any new schools to their lists.

      Kennedy Trail Elementary in Surrey

      Stores and air travel

      Loblaw announced two Shoppers Drug Mart location had employees that tested positive:

      • one employee who last worked at the 370 East Broadway location on October 8;

      • two employees who last worked at the 12830 96th Avenue location in Surrey on October 9 and 14.

      The B.C. Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) has added the following 10 domestic flights and one international flight confirmed with COVID-19 to its list:

      • October 10: WestJet 3255, Edmonton to Kelowna;
      • October 11: WestJet 141, Edmonton to Vancouver;
      • October 12: Flair 8186, Kelowna to Edmonton;
      • October 13: Flair 8187, Prince George to Edmonton;
      • October 14: Aeromexico 696, Mexico City to Vancouver;
      • October 14: Air Canada 299, Winnipeg to Vancouver;
      • October 15: Air Canada 195, Toronto to Victoria;
      • October 16: WestJet 714, Vancouver to Toronto;
      • October 16: WestJet 725, Toronto to Vancouver;
      • October 17: WestJet 139, Calgary to Vancouver;
      • October 19: Swoop 107, Hamilton to Abbotsford.

      For affected row information, check the BCCDC public exposures webpage. 

      Anyone in the affected rows or on these flights should monitor themselves for 14 days. If you develop symptoms, immediately self-isolate and call 811 (if in B.C.) or your local healthcare provider for testing information.

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