COVID-19 in B.C.: Teachers seek more health measures, 10 exposure events in schools, and more

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      Although active and hospitalized cases and the number of monitored people all increased today, B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry had provided an optimistic outlook at yesterday’s monthly data update—she had said that B.C. has begun to flatten its curve and was on the right track.

      While there aren’t any new outbreaks today, there are 10 schools, six flights, and one grocery store with potential exposure incidents.

      Vancouver Coastal Health announced today that the testing site in North Vancouver at Centennial Theatre will close tomorrow (October 7), and a new testing site will open at the Capilano Claim Centre on Thursday (October 8). 

      In addition, the B.C. Teachers' Federation released the results of a poll they conducted among teachers to find out how they felt about health measures in schools.

      Daily update: October 6

      B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Deputy Health Minister Stephen Brown announced in a joint statement that there are 102 new cases (including one epi-linked case) in B.C.

      The number of people in hospital has increased by five individuals to 71 patients, with 16 of them in intensive care units.

      Active cases have also increased by 31 cases to 1,384 active cases today.

      Public health is monitoring 3,089 people (due to exposure to confirmed cases), which is up 79 people from yesterday.

      The goods news is that there aren’t any new community or healthcare outbreaks.

      Active healthcare outbreaks remain in 16 longterm care facilities and three acute care facilities.

      Unfortunately, there are two new COVID-19 related deaths, for a total of 244 deaths in B.C.

      A cumulative total of 9,841 cases have been confirmed in British Columbia during the pandemic, including:

      • 5,038 in the Fraser Health;

      • 3,612 in Vancouver Coastal Health;

      • 556 in the Interior Health;

      • 324 in the Northern Health

      • 221 in Island Health;

      • 90 cases of people who live outside Canada.

      A total of 8,184 people have now recovered.

      B.C. teachers’ concerns

      The B.C. Teachers’ Federation (BCTF) has not given up on pressing for further improvements for health measures in schools.

      Today, the BCTF released the result of a poll conducted among teachers toward the end of the second week of school (from September 17 to 21) and received almost 9,000 responses.

      The poll found that 60 percent of teachers found the health and safety conditions in their school either somewhat (37 percent) or completely (23 percent) inadequate. Only seven percent of teachers found the existing measures completely adequate.

      “The first month has been filled with confusing and inconsistent public reporting, online speculation, and serious lags between an exposure and effective contact tracing,” BCTF president Teri Mooring stated in a news release. “We need the health authorities and school districts to be doing a better job at informing teachers and parents about possible exposures.”

      The BCTF is calling for a stronger mask mandate, smaller class sizes, equitable hybrid education options (a combination of online and in-person classes) to reduce numbers of students in schools and to ensure physical distancing.

      The BCTF also sent a letter to Henry on September 23.

      The letter was sent before Henry clarified on October 1 that the discrepancies between Vancouver Coastal Health and other regional health authorities in reporting schools with exposure incidents had been resolved.

      École Alpha Secondary

      School exposures

      Vancouver Coastal Health has added three more schools in Vancouver to its list of exposure incidents:

      • Lord Tennyson Elementary (1936 West 10th Avenue), with potential exposure dates from September 29 to 30;

      St. Andrew’s Elementary (450 East 47th Avenue) with a potential exposure on September 29;

      Tyee Elementary (3525 Dumfries Street) with potential exposure from September 28 to 29.

      Meanwhile, Fraser Health, added three schools to its list.

      In Burnaby, École Alpha Secondary (4600 Parker Street) had an exposure event from September 29 to October 2.

      In Surrey, Green Timbers Elementary (8824 144th Street) had an exposure event on September 29 while Fleetwood Park Secondary (7940 156th Street) had an exposure incident on October 1.

      In addition, several schools in Surrey, which have had previous incidents, are reporting additional exposure dates.

      North Surrey Secondary (15945 96 Avenue), which previously had an incident on September 14, is now listing September 24 and 25 as exposure dates.

      Rosemary Heights Elementary (15516 36 Avenue) previously listed a potential exposure on September 21 but now has additional dates from September 24 to October 2.

      Sullivan Heights Secondary (6248 144 Street) had an incident on September 8 and has now listed September 30 to October 1 as additional dates.

      Tamanawis Secondary School (12600 66 Avenue), which previously had an incident on September 17 has added September 30 as a new exposure date.

      Stores and flights

      Sobeys stated that an employee at a Safeway (780–2601 Westview Drive) in North Vancouver, who last worked at the location on October 1, has tested positive.

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

      • September 25: Air Canada 303 from Montreal to Vancouver;

      • September 25: Air Canada 8261 from Vancouver to Nanaimo;

      • September 27: Air India 1143 from Delhi to Vancouver;

      • September 27: KLM 681 from Amsterdam to Vancouver;

      • September 30: Air India 1143 from Delhi to Vancouver;

      • October 2: Swoop 107 from Hamilton to Abbotsford.

      For affected row information, visit the BCCDC public exposure webpage.

      Anyone in the affected rows (or on the flights if rows are not specified) should monitor themselves for symptoms for 14 days following the flight date.

      If symptoms develop, immediately self-isolate and contact 811 about testing.

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