COVID-19 cases on the rise in Fraser Health with majority linked to known exposures

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SURREY, B.C. — New COVID-19 infections in the Fraser Health region continue to drive rising case numbers in British Columbia as the health authority recorded 205 of the 335 cases detected provincewide on Wednesday.

Dr. Elizabeth Brodkin, the chief medical health officer for Fraser Health, says 75 to 80 per cent of new cases are linked to a known exposure, leaving about 20 per cent of infections with an unknown source.

She says the primary places the illness is spreading are private households, including social gatherings and celebrations where it's difficult to maintain safety measures, while transmission is also happening at work sites.

Brodkin told a news conference on Wednesday the timelines for contact tracing depend on the individual case and circumstance, but public health workers in Fraser Health are generally meeting their timelines for following up with people who have been exposed to COVID-19.

The B.C. government has recorded another death related to the illness, bringing the death toll in the province to 273.

Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry say in a joint statement the novel coronavirus doesn't recognize regional borders.

"A small cluster in one region can quickly become an outbreak in another. That is why provincewide orders are in place throughout B.C. and why we all need to use our layers of protection all the time," the statement says.

Several sports teams in Chilliwack, B.C., which falls within the Fraser Health region, have suspended or wrapped up their seasons in order to help curb the spread of COVID-19 in the community.

The Chilliwack minor hockey and ringette associations have paused play until further notice, while the Cheam Skating Club has cancelled its programming until at least Saturday and the Chilliwack Minor Football Association has called off the rest of its season.

Fraser Health CEO Dr. Victoria Lee says an outbreak at a dance studio in Chilliwack has now led to 38 cases so far, as well as 13 exposures in schools. There haven't been any secondary cases linked to those exposures, she says.

The dance studio was operating with a COVID-19 safety plan in place, Brodkin said earlier in the week.

Fraser Health has recorded 9,439 of the 16,135 cases confirmed in B.C. since the start of the pandemic. Vancouver Coastal Health has recorded the second-highest number of cases among regional health authorities with 5,097 infections.

There are 3,120 active infections in B.C. as of Wednesday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 4, 2020.

The Canadian Press