COVID-19 in B.C.: New healthcare outbreak, Kelowna hotel exposure incident, and air passenger information collection

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      Today’s case numbers, announced in a joint statment from B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix, continued similar trends as yesterday.

      Meanwhile, there is one new healthcare outbreak and a community COVID-19 exposure incident in Kelowna, and the federal government announced news about air travel that B.C. public health teams have long been waiting for.

      Daily update: September 11 

      Yesterday, Henry reported that B.C. hit a record high number of new cases with 139 cases. Today’s count wasn’t far behind—132.

      In the weekly COVID-19 surveillance report for September 4 to 10 from the B.C. Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC), the total number of new cases for the past week (789) rose by 120 cases from the week prior (669).

      The number of active cases rose yet again. Currently, there are 1,461 active cases, an increase of 49 cases from yesterday. According to the BCCDC, the number of active cases this past week (1,412) was also higher than the previous week (1,175).

      Reflecting the increasing number of young adults becoming infected, the average age of cases continues to drop, from 55 years old to 33 years of age, according to the BCCDC. The BCCDC also stated that there were increases in cases in all age groups over the past week, except for those aged 80 years or more.

      Similarly, the number of people in hospital also continued to increase, this time by seven people to 49 individuals, with 10 patients in intensive care units.

      The BCCDC stated that the number of new hospital admissions have increased over the past three weeks, and reached a level that has not been seen since mid-May. However, even though hospitalized and intensive care unit case numbers have also increased, they remain lower than those in Phase 1.

      Public health is monitoring 3,198 people (89 more people since yesterday).

      B.C. Centre for Disease Control

      There is one new healthcare outbreak.

      Fraser Health confirmed one staff member at Evergreen Hamlets at Fleetwood longterm care facility (8382 156th Street) in Surrey, operated and managed by H&H Total Care Services. Active outbreaks remain at 14 longterm care facilities and three acute-care facilities.

      No new community outbreaks were announced.

      However, Interior Health issued a notice today that several individuals who attended a private party from midnight to 3:30 a.m. on September 7 at Hotel Zed (1627 Abbott Street) in Kelowna may have been exposed to COVID-19. A group of people had gathered at a common area and a balcony of the hotel at that time, and some of the individuals may not have been registered guests. 

      Anyone who attended this event should monitor for symptoms for 14 days after the event date while minimizing contact with others. Anyone who develops symptoms should immediately self-isolate and seek testing by calling 811.

      During the pandemic, B.C. has recorded a cumulative total of 6,962 cases, including 2,419 in Vancouver Coastal Health; 3,600 in Fraser Health; 190 in Island Health region; 465 in Interior Health; 204 in Northern Health; and 84 cases of people from outside Canada.

      With 154 more people having recovered since yesterday, a cumulative total of 5,273 people who tested positive during the pandemic have since recovered.

      Thankfully, there weren’t any new deaths announced again, leaving the total number of fatalities at 213 deaths.

      According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, there have been 134,924 cases; 6,771 active cases; and 9,163 deaths in Canada as of September 10.

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

      Air travel change

      For months, Henry has said that what would help travel-related contact tracing a great deal would be if airlines collected contact information for passengers useful for public health teams. 

      Premier John Horgan said on September 9 that he had spoken to Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland about the issue earlier that day. 

      Canada’s Transport Minister Marc Garneau announced today that Transport Canada, provincial governments, public health authorities, and Canadian airlines established a consistent approach for collecting and sharing passenger information.

      The information will assist in contact tracing, as Henry said the lack of contact information for or locations of passengers made tracking down potentially exposed individuals very difficult. 

      As part of the improved process, passengers will be asked to provide contact information when they check-in for their flight with large Canadian air carriers. 

      Transport Canada had also stated that as of September 4, it had issued the first fines in Canada to individuals in two separate incidents for refusing to wear masks on flights, despite being instructed to do so by flight crew members.

      The first incident took place on June 14 on a WestJet flight from Calgary to Waterloo, Ontario.

      The second incident occurred on July 7 on a WestJet flight from Vancouver, to Calgary. 

      Each individual was fined $1,000.

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