B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announce province-wide travel and other restrictions at the B.C. legislature, Nov. 19, 2020. (B.C. government)

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announce province-wide travel and other restrictions at the B.C. legislature, Nov. 19, 2020. (B.C. government)

Latest COVID-19 restrictions starting to show results in B.C.

Lower Mainland ‘spillover’ affects health care, other regions

The first two weeks of restricting social gatherings to household groups has started to show results in slowing the spread of COVID-19 in the Lower Mainland, prompting the expansion of private home and other restrictions across B.C. until at least Dec. 7.

“We have seen a decrease in the number of people who have been infected from attending social gatherings,” provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said as she announced the province-wide expansion of restrictions this week. “So, it is making a difference in the Lower Mainland. Now we need to focus on some of the workplace settings where we’re seeing increases and long-term care where we’re seeing increases.”

Social gatherings, indoors at home or outside at private, sporting or cultural events, are suspended for two weeks at least under Henry’s latest public health orders. Masks are now required for indoor retail and public shared areas, such as apartment and office building hallways and elevators.

B.C.’s coronavirus testing and contact tracing effort reached its limit in recent weeks, although with recent hires and reassignments, the daily tests completed reached a new record of 13,792 on Nov. 18. Since late September, the daily tests reported by the B.C. Centre for Disease Control have averaged about 10,000 a day, as positive tests climbed past 600 and then 700 a day in November. Thursday’s total of 538 new infections was the first decline in a week, but still much higher than B.C.’s first surge in the spring, when capacity for testing was much lower.

RELATED: Masks now mandatory in public, retail spaces in B.C.

RELATED: Recreational travel, religious services suspended

Health Minister Adrian Dix responded to calls for more localized community data on virus spread, which continues to be reported by health region, except for specific locations of community and school exposures around the province. Dix and Henry have maintained that community data can give a false sense of security, as seen with the recent surge in the Fraser Health region.

“In the middle of the summer in Fraser Health, a disproportionate number of our cases within Fraser Health were in the Abbotsford area,” Dix said. “Now it’s in Surrey, but we have cases throughout the province,” Dix said Nov. 19. “And just to put it in context, I think the number of cases today outside of the Metro Vancouver health authorities is 51. Well, four weeks ago that averaged about four or five.”

It’s the regional and provincial “spillover” that prompted the return to essential-only travel in the province, a further blow to tourism and accommodation operators who have struggled to survive on local or regional business only.

“What does this mean? It means yes, you can move about within your region,” Henry said. “If you live in Penticton, you can go to Summerland. If you live in Victoria and want to go to Tofino – not such a good idea right now.”

A key public health concern is not only the high number of daily cases, but the rising portion that have not been traced to any specific exposure site. Dix said contact tracing staff have been transferred from other areas to Fraser Health, and new hires are also being assigned to B.C.’s most populous health region.

Community cases get into the health care system as staff members are infected in the community, and there are currently more than 50 long-term and acute care facilities dealing with confirmed exposures.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC politicsCoronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

An aerial shot of Cedar Valley Lodge this past August, LNG Canada’s newest accommodation for workers. This is where one employee is still currently isolating after a COVID-19 outbreak was first declared on Nov. 19. (Photo courtesy of LNG Canada)
54 positive COVID-19 cases associated with LNG Canada site outbreak

There’s been a two-person increase in positive cases since Tuesday (Dec. 1)

K-J Millar/The Northern View
8 confirmed COVID-19 deaths in the Northern Health Authority

Since Nov. 27, there have been 191 new cases reported in NHA

A coal-fired power plant seen through dense smog from the window of an electric bullet train south of Beijing, December 2016. China has continued to increase thermal coal production and power generation, adding to greenhouse gas emissions that are already the world’s largest. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
LNG featured at B.C. energy industry, climate change conference

Hydrogen, nuclear, carbon capture needed for Canada’s net-zero goal

Victoria’s Royal Jubilee Hospital took in two COVID-19 patients from Northern Health as part of a provincial agreement. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria hospital takes in two COVID-19 patients from Northern Health

Royal Jubilee Hospital takes patients as part of provincial transport network

An aerial shot of Cedar Valley Lodge this past August, LNG Canada’s newest accommodation for workers. This is where several employees are isolating after a COVID-19 outbreak was declared on Nov. 19. (Photo courtesy of LNG Canada)
52 positive COVID-19 cases now associated with LNG Canada site outbreak

Eight cases still active, 44 considered recovered

Pickleball game in Vancouver on Sunday, November 8, 2020. B.C.’s public health restrictions for COVID-19 have been extended to adult team sports, indoors and outside. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
711 more COVID-19 cases detected in B.C. Friday

‘Virus is not letting up and neither can we’

British Columbia Health Minister Adrian Dix wears a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19, during an announcement about a new regional cancer centre, in Surrey, B.C., on Thursday, August 6, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
PHSA bought faulty respirators; spent money on catering, renovations: Dix

Such spending included ‘unnecessary, unbudgeted renovations’ to the authority’s headquarters in Vancouver

B.C. NDP leader John Horgan releases his election platform, Vancouver, Oct. 6, 2020, featuring COVID-19 relief payments promised for most households. (B.C. NDP photo)
Next $1.5 billion in B.C. COVID-19 cash ‘prudent,’ Horgan says

New round of payments for household incomes up to $175,000

KIJHL games have been postponed through Dec. 31. (File photo)
KIJHL postpones all games through end of 2020

Due to provincial health orders, games up to Dec. 31 have been pushed back

Robert Riley Saunders. (File)
Former Kelowna social worker arrested for allegedly stealing from foster kids

Robert Riley Saunders was arrested in Alberta and will be brought back to B.C. to face charges

Melissa David, of Parachutes for Pets and her dogs Hudson and Charlie are trying to raise money for a homeless shelter that will allow pets and are seen in Calgary, Alta., Thursday, Feb. 6, 2020.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘My only wish:’ Children asking pet charity to help their furry friends at Christmas

Parachutes for Pets says it has received 14 letters from children in the last week

Melissa Velden and her chef-husband Chris Velden, stand in their dining room at the Flying Apron Inn and Cookery in Summerville, N.S. on Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. The couple is hosting holiday parties with appropriate distancing and other COVID-19 health protocols in place at their restaurant. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Celebrities, Santa and Zoom part of office holiday parties being held amid COVID-19

Many will send tokens of appreciation to workers or offer time off or cash

A demonstrator wears representations of sea lice outside the Fisheries and Oceans Canada offices in downtown Vancouver Sept. 24, demanding more action on the Cohen Commission recommendations to protect wild Fraser River sockeye. (Quinn Bender photo)
First Nations renew call to revoke salmon farm licences

Leadership council implores use of precautionary principle in Discovery Islands

Most Read