B.C. officials call for virtual Diwali celebrations as COVID cases hit new peak

·2 min read

VICTORIA — British Columbia health officials are urging residents to celebrate Diwali virtually this year, as the province reports a new daily record number of COVID-19 cases.

B.C. recorded 617 new cases on Friday, for a total of 20,985.

Officials also reported two new COVID-19-related fatalities, bringing the province's death toll to 290 over the course of the pandemic.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix say in a joint statement that the number of cases shows it is a critical time for B.C., and residents need to work together to slow the number of infections.

They say people who would normally be gathering to celebrate the South Asian holiday of Diwali this weekend should stay home and connect virtually with family members and friends.

The plea comes a day after modelling data showed the number of cases has doubled every 13 days in the past few weeks, making it harder for contact tracers to keep up and break the chains of transmission.

"As (Thursday's) modelling update clearly showed, this is a critical time for everyone in our province. We need to act now to protect our loved ones, our elders and our communities," Dix and Henry said in their joint statement. 

The province also announced new ticketing measures for party buses and limousines in the Vancouver Coastal Health and Fraser Health regions on Friday.

People or companies operating the vehicles and found to be violating the provincial health order face fines of up to $2,000.

The Ministry of Public Safety said individuals found using limos or party buses would be fined up to $200.

All ticketing measures previously announced in August and September to enforce COVID-19 public safety at gatherings and events will remain in effect throughout B.C., the ministry statement said. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 13, 2020.

The Canadian Press