COVID-19 in B.C.: Vancouver not reporting all schools with cases, Trudeau says second wave has begun

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      Prime Minister Justin Trudeau addressed the nation today (September 23), stating that Canada’s second COVID-19 wave is already underway in four provinces: British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, and Quebec.

      “We’re on the brink of a fall that could be much worse than the spring,” he said.

      He added that we won’t likely be gathering for Thanksgiving but “we have a shot at Christmas”.

      Meanwhile in B.C. COVID news, CTV News reported that police are involved in investigations into death threats made against B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.

      Daily COVID-19 update: September 23

      Henry and Deputy Health Minister Stephen Brown issued a joint statement for today’s COVID-19 update.

      "New cases and clusters of COVID-19 remain higher than where we would like them to be.” they stated. “"The impact of this means that thousands of people in B.C. are now under active public health monitoring and care, with many forced to deal with the stress and anxiety that comes with having to self-isolate away from work, friends, and family.”

      They announced 91 new cases (which includes five epi-linked cases), which is slightly lower than yesteryday’s count (96 new cases).

      Hospitalized cases only increased by one person to 62 patients, 18 of whom are in intensive care (down from 22 ICU patients yesterday).

      Following yesterday’s steep drop of over 500 active cases, the number of active cases continues to decrease—this time down 89 cases to 1,376 active cases.

      On the other hand, the number of people public health is monitoring (due to exposure to confirmed cases) continues to grow—up 54 people to 3,368 people.

      Some good news is that there aren’t any new healthcare or community outbreaks.

      Healthcare outbreaks at Bear Creek Villa independent-living facility and the Normanna longterm care facility have been declared over. Active healthcare outbreaks remain at nine longterm care or assisted-living facilities and five acute-care facilities.

      A community outbreak at Loblaws warehouse in Surrey has also been declared over.

      There was only one new school that has been reported to have had a COVID-19 exposure incident: Fraser Health has listed the independent Gobind Sarvar Elementary School (9920 168th Street) in Surrey from September 17 to 18. None of the health authorities have listed any new schools with cases.

      The B.C. Centre for Disease Control has added two flights confirmed with COVID-19:

      • September 9: Air Canada flight 128, from Vancouver to Toronto, affected rows 12 to 16;

      • September 17: Air Transat flight 932, from Toronto to Vancouver, affected rows not reported.

      Anyone in these rows or on these flights should monitor themselves for 14 days after the flight date and immediately self-isolate if symptoms develop. Call 811 (if in B.C.) to find out about testing.

      Thankfully, there weren’t any new deaths announced. The total number of fatalities remains at 227 people who have died.

      A cumulative total of 8,395 cases during the pandemic includes:

      • 3,016 cases in Vancouver Coastal Health;

      • 4,302 in Fraser Health;

      • 203 in Island Health;

      • 515 in Interior Health;

      • 273 in Northern Health;

      • 86 people who live outside Canada.

      A cumulative total of 6,769 people who tested positive during the pandemic have since recovered.

      B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry
      Province of British Columbia

      Differences in listing school cases

      After the province’s regional health authorities began listing all known COVID-19 exposure incidents at schools on their websites, there have been two exceptions.

      One is Island Health, which has not reported any schools with cases yet.

      While Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) has reported one school in West Vancouver so far, there have been cases reported by news outlets at four other schools that aren’t listed on the VCH website: two more schools in West Vancouver (West Vancouver Secondary, and independent Collingwood School); one school in Vancouver (Hastings Elementary); and one school in Richmond (McMath Secondary).

      VCH has been reported as diverging from the policy followed by other health authorities by only reporting a school as having a COVID-19 exposure incident if it is unable to notify all close contacts of a case directly.

      CBC News reported on September 21 that VCH stated it is following the same protocol for schools as it did for workplaces.

      However, when asked about this difference at the daily briefing yesterday (September 22), Henry said that there is one provincewide approach to listing schools.

      “I think there was some perhaps misunderstanding when we were first posting these up but we expect that Vancouver Coastal would adhere to what everybody else is doing as well as our provincial standard,” she said.

      Today, North Shore News reported that VCH is aware of the province’s approach but won’t be doing the same—due to concerns about stigmatization of students or parents removing children from schools—unless Henry orders them to.

      VCH covers Vancouver, Richmond, the North Shore and Coast Garibaldi, the Sea-to-Sky region, the Sunshine Coast, Powell River, Bella Bella, and Bella Coola.

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