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Surge of COVID-19 in Fraser region mainly due to private gatherings: health authority CEO

Last Updated Oct 22, 2020 at 4:00 pm PST

FILE - In this Wednesday, March 11, 2020 file photo, a technician prepares COVID-19 coronavirus patient samples for testing at a laboratory in New York's Long Island. The Trump administration’s plan to provide every nursing home with a fast COVID-19 testing machine comes with an asterisk: the government won’t supply enough test kits to check staff and residents beyond an initial couple of rounds. A program that sounded like a game changer when it was announced last month at the White House is now prompting concerns that it could turn into another unfulfilled promise for nursing homes, whose residents and staff account for as many as 4 in 10 coronavirus deaths. Administration officials respond that nursing homes can pay for ongoing testing from a $5-billion federal allocation available to them. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Fraser Health Authority is urging everyone to keep group gatherings to no more than six people

Victoria Lee confirms recent super spreader events have been linked to private gatherings

70 per cent of the province's COVID-19 cases have been in the Fraser Health region

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — A renewed call to keep group gatherings to no more than six people was prompted by surging COVID-19 cases in the Fraser Health region, which has the bulk of the province’s infections.

“We’re at a point that we do need to do even more than what we have done to ensure we bend the curve again,” says Dr. Victoria Lee, the CEO of the Fraser Health Authority.

She confirms recent superspreader events have been linked to private gatherings, including weddings lasting more than one day and funerals.

“Some gatherings have been reported to some of those municipalities, then follow-up occurred through bylaw or local police. If you meet with a different small group every day or weekend, COVID will spread. We have seen that with private gatherings and weddings.”

Lee adds 70 per cent of all cases in B.C. are in the Fraser Health region, and enforcement has been stepped up as a result.

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry also noted recent clusters have been linked to weddings, funerals, and celebrations of life. 

Outbreaks linked to workplaces and community sports are also a cause for concern, Lee says.

“We are seeing transmissions in different types of households and different types of events,” Lee says. “Complaints have led to some of the investigations, as well as closures and additional training education. Again, I’d like to emphasize that almost everybody is doing the right thing.”

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She adds there are no immediate plans to shut down any recreational facilities linked to outbreaks involving hockey leagues and other community sports, but she isn’t ruling it out.

“Right now, we’re focused on how can we maximize those positive interactions and minimize impact in terms of COVID transmissions.”

With nearly 1,500 active cases in the region, Lee says work continues to expand testing capacity, to keep wait times at a minimum.

B.C. recorded more than 200 COVID-19 infections for two days in a row this week while also setting a new record. A few days earlier, Henry officially declared the province is in its second wave of COVID-19.