VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) — Close to 1,000 people across B.C. are now self-isolating as a direct result of recent COVID-19 community exposure events, including the one in Kelowna on the Canada Day long weekend, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said Wednesday.
“This means these people are unable to work, to see friends, to leave their home, to enjoy the summer like the rest of us,” Henry said as the province recorded 34 new cases of the virus.
It’s the third straight day cases have surpassed 30 in B.C., while Henry warned earlier in the week of the potential for explosive growth in new cases if people aren’t more careful.
More than 70 people have now tested positive for COVID-19 following gatherings in Kelowna.
As a result of the recent increase in cases, the province amended health orders for restaurants, bars and nightclubs.
*34 new cases
*17 in hosp., 3 in ICU
*no new deaths (189)
*DBH renews warning about (re)flattening our curve. "There are now close to 1K British Columbians in every health authority self-isolating at home because they have been exposed to somebody who's positive." https://t.co/UddA7606hD
— Sonia Aslam (@SoniaSAslam) July 22, 2020
“As we all know, the B.C. COVID-19 curve is trending in the direction we do not want to go, and that is upwards. And we all need to take a step back and look at the things that we need to do to bend our curve back down, where we need to keep it,” said Henry.
“Over the course of the past few weeks, we’ve recognized that risks within bars and nightclubs and recent links to exposures in these locations have occurred and, as we’ve discussed, we are now amending the provincial health order to put in place more restrictions more things that will help us control those environments and make them safer.”
B.C. is amending the provincial health order to control places like bars, restaurants and clubs because of recent exposures/clusters.
Some measures include: Patrons must be seated at all times, no dance floors, no self-serve, places of close proximity must be controlled.
— Lasia Kretzel (@lkretzel1130) July 22, 2020
All patrons in bars and nightclubs must now be seated at designated spots, while there will be no liquor self-service or dance floors. Measures are also being added to reduce lineups and gatherings and pressure points.
The maximum number of people per table remains six.
Henry said the intention is for bars to close at 11 p.m.
— LizaYuzda (@LizaYuzda) July 22, 2020
“COVID-19 safety plans are in place for a reason, and these are the plans that businesses have to adhere to, to make sure that both staff and customers are safe, and these are the plans that we will be monitoring, both with WorkSafe and public health inspectors, to make sure that we are supporting restaurants and nightclubs and businesses across the province to keep everyone safe.”
Henry said changes are also coming to the requirements for events in B.C., to further reduce the potential of transmission in higher-risk environments, but did not offer details.
“Contact tracing for three or four people is much easier and faster than trying to reach 20 or 30 people for every case that has come up, and that is the situation that we have found ourselves in the last few weeks with each additional person. The time it takes us to find them, the potential for them to develop symptoms, and pass it on to others is greater, putting more people at risk,” she said.
“We are not going to go back to things we had to do earlier this year, but in order to keep going forward, we need to go back to safe social interactions.”
However, Henry has had discussions about adding restrictions on gatherings specific to the central Okanagan region.
“We’ve been in discussions about the number of people and gatherings, for example, and it may be prudent given that that is an area where people are going to travel and visit.”
Henry advised keeping social groups small and among familiar people. She also suggested, even when outside, to avoid crowded locations
“Being outside is not enough,” she said.
“Recognize that every time you burst your bubble, you are bringing others in, and your risk increases.”
Restrictions specific to interior:
Dr Henry says hearing about larger gatherings – larger than manageable- that has proven to be venue where there are transmissions. Also putting strain on public health – trying to contact trace as fast as needed.#bcpoli @NEWS1130 #covid19
— LizaYuzda (@LizaYuzda) July 22, 2020
Henry added people need to remember to still wash their hands regularly, following one-way directions in stores, and wear masks or face-coverings when distancing isn’t possible.
She also said the province will not mandate students to wear masks when school starts in the fall.
“We know from the evidence around the world that that’s not needed,” she said. “Masks for long periods of time are not recommended by anybody, in any situation. We know that that is not what keeps people safe.”
Henry added, while a full plan is forthcoming, the goal is to have as many children as possible back in a school learning environment for the fall.
Total cases in B.C. are at 3,362. Three of the new cases were epi-linked.
No new deaths were recorded Wednesday, for the ninth straight day. Total deaths remain at 189.
Of 289 active cases, 17 people remain in hospital, including three in intensive care.
Outbreaks remain active at three care facilities.
Cases by health region since the start of the pandemic: 1,049 Vancouver Coastal; 1,742 Fraser; 141 Vancouver Island; 304 Interior; 69 Northern; and 57 who are residents from outside Canada.