Provincial health authorities acknowledged the disproportionately high growth of COVID-19 cases in the Fraser Health region today during their briefing, which took place in Surrey.
Fraser Health president and CEO Dr. Victoria Lee opened the briefing by telling people living in that region that they should reconsider social interactions with people outside their own households. This is in addition to the new public health order announced Monday by provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, said Lee.
“From what we are seeing, even small gatherings can be risky right now,” said Lee.
Henry announced 234 new cases of COVID-19, including four that are epidemiologically linked, for a total of 14,109. There were 10,129 tests conducted during that period, for a positivity rate of around 2.3 per cent.
BC hit the 10,000 case mark just three weeks ago, on Oct. 8. At that point, there were about 1,400 active cases and just over 3,100 people under active public health monitoring as a result of identified exposure to known cases. There were 76 people in hospital on Oct. 8.
Today, all those numbers have experienced massive growth. There are 2,344 active cases and 5,714 people being monitored by public health. Across BC, 86 people are in hospital, 24 of whom are in critical care.
There was one new death today, a woman in her 80s in the Fraser Health region who had recently attended a small birthday party of less than 10 people. Henry said one person unknowingly brought COVID-19 to the party and the majority of guests subsequently contacted the virus.
She announced four new healthcare outbreaks and declared one existing outbreak to be over. Three of the four new outbreaks involve a single healthcare worker at each location. There are 25 active outbreaks in the healthcare system, 24 in longterm care or assisted living facilities and one in an acute care facility.
While there have been no new community outbreaks, Henry said the virus continues to circulate, “and we continue to see cases associated with businesses, with gyms, with other settings across the province.”
She said with many more celebrations coming up in the fall, and considering the increased cases resulting from Thanksgiving gatherings, people need to celebrate in new ways and consider safety.
“If you are thinking about seeing people from your safe six, make sure it is the same six,” she said.
Henry also suggested people choose to socialize with others outside their homes in places like parks or businesses with COVID-19 safety plans and precautions in place. Homes, Henry said, do not have space for safe distancing, nor do they have layers of protection like plexiglass and one-way pathways that are present at restaurants and other businesses.
“We need to do this together, and now is a critical time for us to pay attention again to how important it is to stand together by staying apart and to connect with each other in ways that are safe,” said Henry.
Interim Health Minister Adrian Dix, in his first conference back after last weekend’s provincial election, provided an update on BC’s hires of new contact tracers. In the last week, there were 63 new contact tracers hired, and there have been 523 total hires to date. Dix said the province is now intending to hire around 800 people, as opposed to the 500 originally planned.
For a list of community exposure events, click here.
For the latest medical updates, including case counts, prevention, risks and testing, visit: http://www.bccdc.ca/ or follow @CDCofBC on Twitter.
Hannah Scott, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Richmond Sentinel