COVID-19 in B.C.: Numbers increase for new, active, hospitalized, and monitored cases and deaths

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      Today, case numbers rose in B.C. in all categories, including new, active, hospitalized, monitored, and deaths.

      Earlier today, the B.C. government announced its new enforcement measures, which B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix had previously said earlier this week would be forthcoming in response to the constantly upward-turning curve.

      The measures will authorize police and other officers to ticket owners, hosts, and attendees of gatherings, events, or other social activities that do not obey provincial health orders, and will also target patrons who are abusive staff at food and drink establishments in attempts to pressure them to break rules.

      Daily update: August 21

      Dix and deputy provincial health officer Dr. Réka Gustafson issued a joint statement for today’s update.

      They announced 90 new cases today. The number of cases in hospital has risen from 11 to 13 individuals, with five of those patients in intensive care units.

      At the moment, there are 824 active cases, which is a new record high and an increase of 44 more active cases. The number of active cases had dropped from the previous high of 798 cases on August 19 to 780 cases yesterday (August 20).

      Also, the number of people being monitored by public health has increased by 20 individuals, from 2,574 people yesterday to 2,594 people today.

      The total number of cases in B.C. during the pandemic is now at 4,915. There have been 1,569 cases in Vancouver Coastal Health; 2,572 in Fraser Health; 160 in Island Health; 417 in Interior Health; 122 in Northern Health; and 75 people who live outside Canada.

      Sadly for a second day, there are two new deaths (both again in the Fraser Health region). A total number of 202 people have died during the pandemic.

      There aren’t any new healthcare outbreaks—active outbreaks remain in eight longterm care facilities and one acute care facility—and there also aren’t any new community outbreaks.

      A total of 3,889 people who tested positive have recovered.

      Fraser Health has added one new potential COVID-19 exposure incident at the Hope River General Store (28605 Trans-Canada Highway) in Hope.

      The affected dates at the location include 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on August 6; 10:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. on August 7; 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on August 13; and 11:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. on August 14.

      B.C. deputy provincial health officer Dr. Réka Gustafson
      Province of British Columbia

      B.C. school concerns

      When the B.C. government announced its plan for the 2020-21 school year on July 29, the B.C. Teachers’ Federation (BCTF) expressed concerns about several elements, and have continued to work with the government’s steering committee and working groups to make improvements.

      One such change was announced on August 12, which will allow teachers to start on September 8 to become familiar with new procedures and arrangements before students arrive on September 10.

      However, BCTF president Teri Mooring stated on August 19 that many issues remain unaddressed, and are of particular concern due to the escalating new and active cases in the province.

      “The government’s learning-groups concept will work for contact tracing, but the plan doesn’t include adequate preventative measures within the learning groups,” Mooring stated.

      BCTF president Teri Mooring raised concerns in a news release about teachers in classrooms with up to 30 or more students without physical barriers, face coverings, or capacity limits in classrooms where physical distancing isn’t possible.   

      In addition, Mooring pointed out that there are schools with outdated ventilation systems and classrooms without external windows.

      “The K–12 restart plan, even with the learning group concept, has made no change to classroom density,” Mooring stated. “You can’t have a group of thirty 17-year-olds in a typical classroom for hours and maintain physical distancing for them or their teacher.”

      Consequently, Mooring said that B.C. needs to reduce classroom numbers to ensure physical distancing and make mask-use mandatory when physical distancing isn’t possible in working spaces such as classrooms and labs, rather than just common spaces like hallways.

      In addition, the BCTF is asking for remote learning options for medically complex children or students with medically compromised family members; improvements to ventilation systems; physical barriers at schools and worksites when physical distancing isn’t possible; cleaning of high-touch surfaces twice a day; and accommodations for teachers with compromised immune systems or chronic health issues.

      Meanwhile, the B.C. Centre For Disease Control (BCCDC) has released a video that parents can watch with children that can help children to understand what is involved in COVID-19 testing.

      Travel issues

      The B.C. Centre for Disease Control announced two new flights have been confirmed with COVID-19.

      One is an international flight: Lufthansa flight 492 (AC9101) from Frankfurt, Germany, to Vancouver on August 9. Affected rows weren’t specified.

      The other is a domestic flight: WestJet flight 706 from Vancouver to Toronto on August 13. Affected rows are from 22 to 28.

      Anyone on these flights should reduce contact with others while monitoring for symptoms for 14 days after the flight date. If you develop symptoms, contact 811 (if in B.C.) for testing.

      In recent travel-related news, CBC News reported on August 19 that an American citizen who was travelling through Canada from Alaska to the U.S. has been charged for allegedly violating Canada’s Quarantine Act in Alberta.

      On June 25, he was given a $1,200 ticket for visiting tourist sites in Banff. Although he was required to leave the next day to return directly to the U.S., he instead visited a tourist site at a mountain in Banff.

      Consequently, he was arrested and will appear in court in Canmore, Alberta, in November.

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