COVID-19 in B.C.: New cases hit record high, addressing cases in schools, and young adult health concerns

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      While the good news is that there weren’t any new COVID-19 cases in a number of categories, B.C. unfortunately established a new record high in one particular area.

      Meanwhile, B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talked about why young adults need to remain concerned about contracting the virus despite most having only mild symptoms.

      With students having returned to schools today, she also explained what would happen in schools if cases are detected.

      Daily update: September 10

      Off the top, Henry said that B.C. reached a record high of 139 new cases. Six out of the seven days over the past week have had 100 or more new cases.

      At the moment, there are 1,412 active cases, up from 1,378 cases yesterday.

      The number of hospitalized cases has once again increased, from 37 (yesterday) to 42 people in hospital today, with 14 of those patients in intensive care units (one less than yesterday).

      Dix said that there are 22 patients in Fraser Health, 13 in Vancouver Coastal Health, and seven in Northern Health (there are no hospitalized cases in Island Health or Interior Health).

      Public health is monitoring 3,109 people due to exposure to confirmed cases (eight more cases than yesterday).

      There aren’t any new healthcare outbreaks, leaving active outbreaks in 13 longterm care facilities and three in acute care facilities. There have been 773 cases (478 residents and 295 staff) involved in healthcare outbreaks during the pandemic.

      Also, there aren’t any new community outbreaks.

      The good news is that there aren’t new deaths. The total number of fatalities remains at 213 people who have died.

      During the pandemic, there has been a cumulative provincial total of 6.830 cases, with 2,343 cases in Vancouver Coastal Health; 3,551 in Fraser Health; 187 in Island Health; 462 in Interior Health; 203 in Northern Health; and 84 cases among people who live outside Canada.

      With 33 new recoveries, a total of 5,119 people have recovered during the pandemic.

      Meanwhile, the B.C. Centre for Disease Control has added four flights to its list of flights confirmed with COVID-19.

      • Lufthansa flight 492 from Frankfurt to Vancouver on August 30 (rows 33 to 27 affected);

      • Aeromexico flight 696 from Mexico City to Vancouver on September 2 (rows 5 to 11 affected);

      • Air India flight 1143 from Delhi to Vancouver on September 4 (affected rows not reported);

      • Air Canada flight 195 from Toronto to Victoria on September 5 (rows 1 to 4 affected).

      Anyone in the specified rows on these flights should monitor themselves for symptoms for 14 days after the flight date and immediately self-isolate if symptoms develop. To find out about testing, call 811.

      Also, another McDonald’s location has reportedly closed temporarily after a staff member tested positive. The employee last worked at the 7229 Kingsway location in Burnaby on September 6. The location has closed for sanitization.

      B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix, with provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry
      Province of British Columbia

      Young adults and longhaulers

      While numbers tell part of the pandemic story, they don’t reflect the potential dangers of transmission, health complications, and what still remains unknown.

      Both Henry and Canada’s chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam have explained in the past that even if most young adults are only experiencing mild symptoms, a proliferation of those cases can cause a spill over into other demographic groups, including vulnerable populations like seniors for whom the illness can be fatal.

      In addition, both Henry and Tam have said that young adults can develop serious conditions.

      “We also know that even young people can get very sick with this and as we see more young people being infected with this virus, chances are that some of them are going to get sick enough to require hospital care, and that is a concern as well,” Henry said.

      When asked about longhaulers, or people who suffer from longterm effects from the virus, Henry said there are a number of clinics in B.C. who are following these cases and that they are monitoring studies from around the world on longterm effects of COVID-19.

      “We are learning about this virus that it can have effects on people that go on for some time, particularly on the heart, on the blood vessels, inflammatory conditions that can cause symptoms—shortness of breath, in particular—profound fatigue…that can last for many months,” she said.

      However, she said that much is still to be learnt about this coronavirus.

      “What we don’t know…[is] if this is something that is gradually going to get better over a period of months to a year, which is something we do see with some other severe viral illnesses or whether this is something that’s going to cause longterm impacts on some people,” she said.

      B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix
      Province of British Columbia

      Cases in schools

      Since there are cases circulating in the community, Henry said they know there will be individuals, including teachers, administrators, and students, who may contract the virus before attending school.

      “We know that we’ll have cases that pop up and we’ve seen that in other provinces where school has started as well,” she said, and that these are cases where people who have contracted the virus through social contacts in the community.

      If no transmission take place within the school, Henry said that isn’t considered an outbreak or a school case. However, local health officers will work with every school, family, and community if there may be a case in their school.

      “It may not require anybody else to stay home,” she said.

      Henry said an outbreak would occur when there is transmission between people in a school setting, “where additional measures have to take place”. She said these incidents will be reported to the public.

      “If there is a possible exposure, it may be that some of the learning group may have to quarantine for a period of time, depending on what type of exposure happened, how many people had close contact, and that’ll be part of the investigation that each health authority will do with the school.”

      When asked what conditions would prompt the school system to be shut down, she said she doesn’t foresee that as “that would mean that we were in dire straits in many other aspects of our community” which they are focussed on avoiding.

      However, one scenario she said that could result in a school being shut down if there multiple exposures and transmission between adults at a school, and there weren’t enough staff remaining to safely operate the school.

      “We’ve seen that happen with influenza outbreaks,” she said. “We’ve seen that happen in other parts of the world where schools have reopened.”

      However, she said they are working to avoid these types of scenarios.

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