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B.C. sets daily COVID-19 record as students return to class

Last Updated Sep 10, 2020 at 11:00 pm PDT

FILE - Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry. (Courtesy B.C. Government)
Summary

B.C. set a daily COVID-19 record on the first day students returned to classrooms

The province recorded 139 new cases Thursday, but no deaths

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said all COVID-19 outbreaks in schools will be announced

VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) — B.C. set a daily COVID-19 record on the first day students returned to classrooms.

The province recorded 139 new cases Thursday, but no deaths. The previous daily case record was 124, set in August.

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said all COVID-19 outbreaks in schools will be announced, and that B.C. should expect to live with the coronavirus for months, maybe years.

“Living with COVID-19 in our communities is the challenge that we are going to face for the next months, maybe years,” she said. “And we need to continue to find a balance. This balance requires us to do what we need and what everything we can to protect ourselves, and those around us, but to ensure that we also have those activities that we need in our communities, to keep going.”

Henry recognized all the work done by educators and parents to get schools ready for students to return as COVID-19 cases continue to surge in the province.

“All of us have been working together to create the new rules for school to reduce the risk of COVID transmission and, importantly, allow everyone to get back to that all-important, in-classroom learning,” she added.

“As is the case for every school and every school district, public health teams are ready and will be there to support your school, school community, as we need to go through this. And like we have in every previous year, we’ll be there if a communicable disease arises that can spread to others. And we know we’ve had those in the past — we’ve had measles, we’ve had meningitis. We will deal with COVID, as well. And the secured school community will know and be alerted.”

The province has developed protocols for outbreaks in schools.

“We know that there will be cases that pop up and we’ve seen that in other provinces where school has started, as well,” Henry said.

“If there’s no transmission event in the school or there’s no exposure when somebody is infectious in the school, then that is not considered an outbreak. That’s not considered a school case,” she added.

Henry said local health officers will be working with every school so that all families are aware of any cases.

“It may not require anybody else to stay home if there is a possible exposure,” she added. “It may be that some of the learning groups may have to be quarantined for a period of time, depending on what type of exposure happened, how many people had close contact, and that’ll be part of the investigation that each health authority will do with the school.”

She said an outbreak would be declared when transmission is seen between people in a school setting.

“And that’s what we will be reporting on publicly to everybody, when we have an outbreak, if and when we have an outbreak in the school, then that’s what we’ll be focusing our measures on, making sure we prevent those from happening.”

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Henry said she does not foresee a situation where the school system would have to close down.

“That would mean that we were in dire straits in many other aspects of our community and that’s what we’re trying to absolutely avoid,” she added.

“I do see there’s a couple of scenarios where we may see schools or groups of people having to self-isolate or close, so it’ll depend on the investigation.”

Henry also said a school could close for multiple exposures or if transmission occurs between adults in one place and there isn’t enough staff left to operate safely.

“We’ve seen that happen with influenza outbreaks, we’ve seen that happen in other parts of the world where schools have reopened,” she said.

“So if that happens, I could see potentially a school having to close.”

The new cases Thursday bring the total in B.C. to 6,830.

Of 1,412 active cases, 42 people are in hospital, including 14 in critical care.

Deaths remain at 213.

No new outbreaks were reported, although 16 remain active in the health-care system, with 13 in long-term care and assisted living, as well as three acute-care units.

More than 3,000 people are being monitored by public health due to COVID-19 exposures.