COVID-19 in B.C.: 20 new cases, nightlife guidelines to be reviewed, and Dr. Bonnie Henry to take a break

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      Although the good news is that there weren’t new deaths announced at today’s B.C. COVID-19 update, the number of new cases in B.C. is the highest amount reported over the past two weeks.

      Meanwhile, B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix answered questions about guidelines for foreigners in the province and when they themselves will be taking vacations.

      Daily update: July 9

      At today’s daily B.C. COVID-19 update, Dr. Henry said that there are 20 new COVID-19 cases, and 175 active cases, with 17 of those people in hospital (four of those patients are in intensive care units).

      She also explained that the case counts of individuals who are residents in another country (such as visitors or temporary foreign workers in B.C.) will now be counted in a separate category (some of the following numbers have accordingly been adjusted).

      The cumulative total number of cases during the pandemic is now at 3,028 cases, with 982 in Vancouver Coastal Health, 1,596 in Fraser Health, 133 in Island Health, 201 in Interior Health, 65 in Northern Health, and 51 amongst those from outside B.C.

      Additional good news is that there aren’t any new healthcare outbreaks, leaving active outbreaks in two longterm care facilities and one acute care unit (a total of 639 cases have been in healthcare, including 393 residents and 246 staff members).

      While there aren’t any new community outbreaks, there have been three COVID-19 exposure incidents which took place at nightlife venues, including Hotel Belmont and Brandi's.

      The incident at No. 5 Orange has since expanded to involve two individuals who have tested positive and were on the premises on July 1, 3, 4, and 7. 

      Anyone who has been present during a community exposure event is asked to monitor themselves for symptoms, and anyone who develops symptoms should immediately isolate themselves and call 811 to arrange for testing.

      The total number of deaths remains at 186 fatalities.

      A total of 2,667 people have now fully recovered.

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

      Review of reopening guidelines

      In the wake of several exposure incidents in Vancouver, Dr. Henry emphasized that everyone needs to continue taking health precautions so that the province can continue on its reopening plan.

      “It is all of us who needs to work together to minimize…the impact so that we can continue to open up activities,” she said.

      She noted that they have seen examples from around the world, including in various parts of the United States which have re-entered lockdowns, where the number of cases “can quickly escalate if we let our guard down too far”.

      She said they will adjust guidelines for various industries as needed, and that they will be reviewing nightlife guidance after three exposure incidents occurred in the past few weeks.

      “If we are going to a nightclub, if we are going to a restaurant, recognize those precautions that we have in place—so smaller numbers, making sure that our group is less than six so that we’re not putting staff at risk, we’re not crowding place, we’re not going mixing in those places with people who we may not know and may not be able to contact afterwards.”

      Dr. Henry said that they have been doing a literature review to develop guidelines for choirs that will likely be ready next week.

      When asked about what guidelines essential workers from outside Canada have to follow while here, Dr. Henry said that they are being asked to minimize contact with community members and take all public health measures that British Columbians follow, including safe distancing, wearing masks, and monitoring for symptoms.

      Essential workers include truckers bringing goods from the U.S.

      Vancouver Kingsway MP and federal NDP health critic Don Davies had previously called for more data to be collected about COVID-19 among truckers travelling across the Canada-U.S. border.

      Canada's chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam and deputy chief public health officer Dr. Howard Njoo

      Summer breaks, autumn preparations

      After working numerous consecutive weeks and months, some of Canada's top public health officials are taking some breaks.

      Today, Canada’s chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam announced she will take some time off to recharge.

      In her absence, deputy chief public health officer Dr. Howard Njoo will fill in for her.

      When Dr. Henry was asked if she would be taking a break, she said that she is taking tomorrow (July 10) and Monday (July 13) off.

      In June, she had previously taken her first day off after working for five consecutive months.

      Deputy provincial health officers Réka Gustufson at the B.C. Centre for Disease Control and Dr. Brian Emerson from the B.C. Health Ministry will cover for Dr. Henry. Nonetheless, Dr. Henry said she would remain in touch while also monitoring case numbers.

      B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix
      Province of British Columbia

      Dix said that he will be attending the B.C. Legislature but he hopes to take a break at some point. However, he said preparations for autumn are currently underway.

      “This is the time now—the time in July and August—where we prepare for the months to come, that the resources are put in place, so this July, in some ways, is the busiest of all the months that we’ve had so far,” he said.

      Next week, Dr. Henry and Dix will present daily B.C. COVID-19 updates in person on Tuesday and Thursday (July 14 and 16) but will issue news releases on the other days.

      Dr. Henry also said that she will be presenting results of antibody testing analysis next week.

      Due to current tests producing some false results, Dr. Henry said that researchers have been using more than one test to validate results and have also had to wait for antibodies to develop, which appear several weeks after a person has recovered.

      She also explained that previous modelling was based upon experiences from other locations, such as Italy and South Korea, as B.C. had not had enough experience of the virus to draw upon.

      However, she said they can now basing modelling for autumn upon “attack rates” of the virus within the province, including preparing the healthcare system, contingency plans, and how to avoid having to shut everything down again.

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