As COVID cases rise, Dr. Henry battens hatches on coast
B.C.’s COVID-19 response and latest updates for Nov. 7
Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s provincial health officer, and Adrian Dix, Minister of Health, have issued the following joint statement regarding updates on the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) response in British Columbia:
Today, we are reporting 567 new cases, for a total of 17,716 cases in British Columbia. There are 31 people in intensive care.
There have been 122 new cases of COVID-19 in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, 411 in the Fraser Health region, three in the Island Health region, 22 in the Interior Health region, nine in the Northern Health region and no new cases of people who reside outside of Canada.
There has been one new COVID-19 related death, for a total of 276 deaths in British Columbia. We offer our condolences to everyone who has lost their loved ones during the COVID-19 pandemic.
There has been one new health-care facility outbreak at The Residence in Mission. In total, 33 long-term care or assisted-living facilities and four acute-care facilities have active outbreaks.
In the last two weeks, we have seen a rapid increase in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and outbreaks in health-care facilities centred primarily in the Fraser and Vancouver Coastal health regions.
These are the result of transmission in people’s homes and in many workplaces, including food processing facilities, retail locations, public venues, as well as with indoor group physical activities.
The goal of our COVID-19 response is to maintain capacity within our health-care system, to protect those who are most vulnerable and to keep as much as possible going in our communities.
We need to keep essential services and essential activities open and operating safely. This is now in jeopardy. As a result, we must now take further action to step back from our restart activities in the Fraser and Vancouver Coastal health regions, to avoid potentially serious consequences for all of us.
Today, new provincial health officer orders have been put in place for all individuals, places of work and businesses across the Fraser and Vancouver Coastal health regions, with the exception of Hope, the central coast and the Bella Coola Valley.
The orders are in effect starting today, Saturday, Nov. 7 at 10 p.m. through to Monday, Nov. 23, at 3 p.m.
Right now, it is very important that everyone in these regions significantly reduces their social interactions.
The orders focus on three areas: social gatherings, group physical activities and workplaces, and are outlined in the following backgrounder.
We are putting measures in place to better protect people who participate in group physical activities and we are also requiring all businesses and worksites to revisit and ensure strict adherence to their COVID-19 safety protocols.
We appreciate this takes sustained daily effort and sacrifice, but these actions are critical to us keeping businesses open and communities safe over the winter months.
In support of this new order, active inspections are being increased and businesses that do not comply will be subject to fines, and/or ordered to close, until a refreshed safety plan and commitment to comply are established.
Finally, we are strongly recommending travel into and out of these regions be limited to essential travel only and people within the regions stay within their local community, as much as possible. We ask those who live outside of the regions not to visit unless it is essential.
Provincial health officer orders are always a last resort, and these additional measures are required right now.
We need everyone to help us keep our wall strong to re-double our efforts to protect our hospitals, our schools, our workplaces and our communities.
New provincial health officer order for the Lower Mainland
Today’s provincial health officer orders are in effect starting Saturday, Nov. 7 at 10 p.m. through to Monday, Nov. 23, at noon and includes the following:
* There are to be no social gatherings of any size with anyone other than your immediate household. This includes gatherings of fewer than 50 people. People who live alone must host no gatherings, but can continue to see members of their pandemic bubble at home.
* Funerals and weddings may proceed with your immediate household, but there are to be no associated receptions inside or outside your home, or at any public or community-based venue.
* Party buses and group limousines operating in these regions are ordered to stop operating (this order remains in effect until further notice).
Group physical activities
* Businesses, recreation centres or other organizations that organize or operate indoor group physical activities must stop these activities until updated COVID-19 safety plans that have been approved by the local medical health officer are in place.
* This includes: spin classes, group fitness, dance classes or any other indoor group physical activity.
* Indoor sports where physical distancing cannot be maintained are suspended for two weeks but can be replaced by individual exercise or practice by reducing the number of people and ensuring everyone maintains a safe physical distance.
* All travel for sports, into or out of these regions, is suspended.
* All businesses and worksites must conduct active daily screening of all on-site workers using their COVID-19 safety plans.
* Workplaces must ensure that all workers and customers maintain enough physical distance, wear masks where appropriate, and be especially vigilant in small office spaces, break rooms and kitchens.
This is the first time since the start of the pandemic that the provincial government has held a media briefing/update session during the weekend.
Lead image: The entrance to East Kootenay Regional Hospital. Carrie Schafer/e-KNOW photo