Hospitalizations continue to spike as B.C. announces 762 new cases of COVID-19 and 10 more deaths

·3 min read

B.C. health officials announced another record high of 762 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday and 10 more deaths.

In a written statement, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix said there are 6,861 active cases in B.C. of people infected with the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. With the latest deaths, the provincial death toll stands at 320.

There are currently 209 people in hospital, with 58 in intensive care. There are now more people in hospital with COVID-19 and more active cases than at any other point in the pandemic to date.

Henry and Dix pleaded with British Columbians to "put the brakes on the virus" and help slow the second wave of this disease by staying local and following public health advice to prevent transmission.

"This second surge is putting a strain on our health-care system, our workplaces and us all. We need to ease this pressure so we can continue to manage the virus in our province and also continue to do the many activities that are important to us," they said.

"While your personal efforts may seem small or having little impact, the collective benefit to every community in every region is significant. Our safety layers are there to help protect us and they work best when we are all using them, all of the time."

Public health is now actively monitoring 9,871 people across the province who are in self-isolation due to COVID-19 exposure. To date, there have been 24,422 confirmed cases of the disease in B.C.

Wednesday's update also includes three new outbreaks in long-term care and assisted living at Agecare Harmony Court Estates in Burnaby, Menno Home in Abbotsford and Peace Villa in Fort St. John.

The majority of the new cases announced Wednesday continue to be in the Lower Mainland, with 481 or 63 per cent in the Fraser Health region and 210 or 28 per cent in the area covered by Vancouver Coastal Health.

People who live in those regions are currently subject to strict restrictions that include a prohibition on socializing with anyone outside of their household. Henry has also advised against any non-essential travel.

On Wednesday morning, Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum said the idea of mandating masks within the largest city in Fraser Health is on his mind, though for now he stills prefers to emphasize personal responsibility.

"I'm very, very close to saying that we should have mandatory masks," McCallum told CBC.

Earlier Wednesday, Premier John Horgan said he is calling on the federal government to implement a "pan-Canadian approach" to non-essential travel during the COVID-19 pandemic.

He said the travel restrictions brought in a week-and-a-half ago in B.C., which advise against non-essential travel in and out of the Vancouver Coastal Health and Fraser Health regions, will be extended for "the next two weeks at least."

Later in the day, the premier said he had connected with faith leaders from across the province and encouraged them to limit in-person festivities for upcoming celebrations including Gurpurab, Chanukah and Christmas.

"The actions that Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists and Jains in B.C. took to avoid in-person gatherings for Diwali and Bandi Chhor Divas helped save lives and protect the most vulnerable," Horgan said in a news release.

"There will be a time when we can all come together again like we did before. Until then, thank you to everyone for doing their part. Together, we're showing that we're stronger when we come together in common purpose."