COVID-19 in B.C.: Private home gatherings restricted, new cases at record high, new exposures in 26 schools, and more

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      Unfortunately once again, B.C. has set another record for new cases reported in one day. This time, the province exceeded the 300-case mark.

      What's more, active, hospitalized, and monitored cases and people have all continued to increase since the last update on October 23.

      As a result of the continuing upward climb in case numbers, B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry issued a provincial health officer order today for home gatherings.

      With the rising cases as we enter into respiratory season, Henry also emphasized the importance of wearing masks.

      While Henry stopped short of saying that masks are mandatory, she said that wearing a mask will now be expected in all public spaces. She also asked all businesses to review their safety plans with this expectation under consideration.

      Over the weekend, there were also new exposure events in 26 schools and one school administration office, two stores, and three flights.

      Daily update: October 23 to 26

      Henry said we are currently seeing the impact of events that took place on the Thanksgiving weekend (October 12)—she said the dramatic increase in case numbers is “a direct result of social gatherings in private homes”.

      There were 317 new cases from October 23 to 24, which is a new record; 293 new cases from October 24 to 25; and 207 new cases from October 25 to 26. The previous record was 274 new cases on October 22.

      The total for October 23 to 26 was 817 new cases (including 11 epi-linked cases), which Henry said is the largest number of cases over a three-day period.

      Currently, there are 2,325 active cases—an increase of 316 people since October 23.

      Hospitalized cases increased by two people to 77 patients in hospital, with 26 of those individuals in intensive care units (also an increase of two people since October 23).

      Public health is monitoring 5,077 people (who have been exposed to confirmed cases, which is an increase of 440 people since October 23.

      There are five new outbreaks.

      Four are in healthcare facilities:

      • Banfield Pavilion 4 West (2785 Ash Street) at Vancouver General Hospital;
      • Queen's Park Care Centre (315 McBride Boulevard) in New Westminster, which had one staff member test positive;
      • Amenida Seniors Community (13855 68 Avenue) in Surrey, which had one staff member test positive;
      • Agassiz Seniors Community (1525 MacKay Crescent) in Agassiz, which had one staff member test positive.

      Meanwhile, three healthcare outbreaks have been declared over: Chartwell Carrington House Retirement Residence in Mission, Thornebridge Gardens Retirement Residence in New Westminster, and Point Grey Hospital in Vancouver.

      Henry said that active healthcare outbreaks are at 21 facilities—19 longterm care facilities and two acute care facilities. A cumulative total of 967 cases have been involved in healthcare outbreaks.

      After Henry’s briefing, Fraser Health announced that the outbreak at Delta Hospital (5800 Mountain View Boulevard) is now over.

      The one new community outbreak is at the Surrey Pretrial Services Centre (14323 57 Avenue).

      Interior Health has declared the community outbreak at the Kelowna FedEx shipping centre (6191 Airport Way) next to the Kelowna International Airport, originally declared on October 15, as over.

      Unfortunately, there have been three new deaths. All were individuals at longterm care homes in Vancouver Coastal Health. There have been 259 COVID-related fatalities during the pandemic.

      A total of 10,740 people have now recovered.

      A cumulative total of 13,371 cases have been been reported during the pandemic, including:

      • 7,529 cases in Fraser Health (including 38 cases in hospital;
      • 4,428 in Vancouver Coastal Health (including 38 cases in hospital);
      • 639 in Interior Health;
      • 383 in Northern Health;
      • 250 in Island Health;
      • 88 people from outside Canada.

      Social gatherings at private homes

      Henry had previously warned on October 22 that she would have to impose restrictions upon social events if the surge seen over the past few weeks continued on.

      As case numbers have continued to climb and aren't showing signs of slowing down, Henry issued a new provincial health officer order today.

      She said that all gatherings in private residences for all occasions are now limited to immediate household members and individuals in “safe six” social circle.

      Although she noted that enforcement will be a “last resort”, she said that this order will be enforced as needed, “with the immediate focus on the Fraser Health region, where the increase in new cases is most notable”.

      Although she said that exposures have been taking place across the province, she said they have seen more transmission occurring in the Lower Mainland—in Metro Vancouver and particularly the Fraser Valley.

      Henry had briefly mentioned that they are not seeing transmission in restaurants where safety plans are being followed. Consequently, she said they are not considering closing eateries right now.

      University Hill Elementary School

      School exposures

      Henry said that regional health authorities have closed two schools—one in Fraser Health and the other in Interior Health, due to exposure incidents or outbreaks. But she did not identify the schools by name.

      However, Kelowna’s École de l’Anse-au-sable, which was the site of the province’s first outbreak in a school after an exposure event from October 13 to 15, has been confirmed in news reports to have been closed until November 4.

      Meanwhile, regional health authorities added 26 schools and one administration office with new exposure events to its list.

      Vancouver Coastal Health added new exposure incidents at five schools.

      In Vancouver, four schools had new exposure events:

      • University Hill Elementary School (5395 Chancellor Boulevard) had an exposure incident on October 20;
      • École Anne-Hébert Elementary School (7051 Killarney Street), which previously had exposures on October 15 and 16, has also had exposures from October 20 to 21;
      • Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic School (2550 Camosun Street) had an exposure event from October 19 to 22;
      • Vancouver College (5401 Hudson Street) which previously had exposures from October 7 to 9, has had another exposure event from October 20 to 21.

      In North Vancouver, Holy Trinity Elementary School (128 West 27th Street) North Vancouver had an exposure event from October 19 to 22.

      Meanwhile in Fraser Health, 20 schools and one school administration facility had exposure incidents. 

      In Burnaby, two schools had new exposure dates:

      • Cameron Elementary (9540 Erickson Drive) had an exposure event from October 13 to 15;

      École Alpha Secondary (4600 Parker Street), which previously had exposures from September 29 to October 2 and from October 13 to 14, has added October 20 as an exposure date.

      In Coquitlam, three schools and a school board facility had new exposure incidents:

      • École Kwayhquitlum Middle School (3280 Flint Street) had exposures from October 13 to 16 and 19 to 20;
      • Rob Stibbs Elementary (600Fairview Street) had an exposure incident on October 16;
      • Smiling Creek Elementary (3456 Princeton Avenue) also had an exposure on October 16.

      Also, the Learning Services Department (550 Poirier Street) for School District No. 43 (Coquitlam) had an exposure incident from October 15 to 16.

      In Port Coquitlam, École Pitt River Middle (2070 Tyner Street), which previously had an exposure event from September 30 to October 1, had another exposure incident from October 15 to 16.

      In Langley, Global Montessori School (19785 55 A Avenue) had an exposure event from October 20 to 22.

      In Mission, Hatzic Middle School (34800 Dewdney Trunk Road), which previously had an exposure on October 5, has added October 16 as an exposure date.

      In Surrey, new exposures took place at 10 schools:

      • Cambridge Elementary (6115 150th Street), which had an exposure incident from October 13 to 14, had added October 16 as an exposure date;

      • École Panorama Ridge Secondary (13220 64 Avenue)—which previously had exposures on September 8 and 10, from September 30 to October 1, and October 6 to 9 and 13 to 15—has October 19 to 20 as added dates;

      • Fraser Wood Elementary (10650 164 Street) had exposures from October 13 to 16 and from 19 to 20;

      • Johnston Heights Secondary (15350 99 Avenue), which previously had an exposure event from September 8 to 11, had an exposure on October 19;

      • Kwantlen Park Secondary (10441 132 Street) had exposures from October 13 to 14 and on October 21;

      • Martha Jane Norris Elementary (12928 66A Avenue), which had an exposure event from October 14 to 16, has added October 13 to its exposure dates;

      • North Ridge Elementary (13460 62 Avenue), which had a previous exposure incident on September 29, had another exposure on October 13;

      • Serpentine Heights Elementary (16126 93a Avenue) had an exposure event from September 19 to 20;

      • Sullivan Heights Secondary (6248 144 Street), which had previous incidents on September 8 and from September 30 to October 1, has added October 13 to 15 and 19;

      Tamanawis Secondary School (12600 66 Avenue)—which previously had incidents on September 17 and 30, October 2 and 6, and from October 13 to 14—has added October 15 and 16.

      In Abbotsford, Mennonite Educational Institute (4081 Clearbrook Road) had exposures on October 13, 14, and 16.

      In Chilliwack, Mount Cheam Christian School (48988 Yale Road) had an exposure incident on October 16.

      Interior Health added one school: Kelowna Secondary School (1079 Raymer Avenue), which had an exposure event from October 19 to 21.

      There weren’t any new school exposure events added by Island or Northern Health.

      École Kwayhquitlum Middle School

      Stores and flights

      Sobeys announced on October 24 that an employee who last worked at the FreshCo (27566 Fraser Highway) in Aldergrove on October 20 has tested positive.

      Meanwhile, Loblaw announced on October 24 that an employee who last worked at the Shoppers Drugs Mart (500 2nd Avenue) in Prince Rupert on October 17 has tested positive.

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

      • October 17: Air Canada flight 305, Montreal to Vancouver, with affected rows 34 to 39;
      • October 22: WestJet flight 711, Toronto to Vancouver, with affected rows 16 to 22;
      • October 22: WestJet flight 3287, Vancouver to Prince George, with affected rows 3 to 9.

      Anyone in the affected rows should monitor themselves for symptoms for 14 days and if symptoms develop, contact 811 or your local healthcare provider to find out about testing.

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