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More restrictions on gatherings threatened as B.C. sees 2nd straight day of record COVID-19 cases

Last Updated Oct 23, 2020 at 5:35 am PDT

Summary

The province threatened to impose more restrictions on gatherings after reporting a record 274 COVID-19 cases

Dr. Bonnie Henry recommends a maximum of six people for any gathering

VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) — The province threatened to impose more restrictions on gatherings Thursday after reporting a second straight day of record COVID-19 cases.

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said she is ready to use whatever tools are necessary to limit social gatherings and curb transmission of the coronavirus as she announced 274 new cases.

That total is 71 more than the record set on Wednesday.

“As much as I am hesitant to do so, and we’ve seen this before, if there is a major source of transmission, additional measures can and will be put in place, if they’re needed,” she added.

“We will use all the tools that are available, whether that is conditions tied to wedding license, restrictions on numbers and indoor gatherings, or other measures that we know will be effective in trying to break these large transmission events. The reality is that, right now, everywhere in B.C., weddings, funerals, and other life occasions need to be as small as possible.”

She recommended a maximum of six people for any gathering.

“Every gathering needs to be our own household only, and at maximum, our safe six. We need to put in place those same thinking that we did in the summer, when we saw surgence in vacation rentals and parties that were happening, to all of our social gatherings,” Henry said.

“This is a critical time as we’re heading into our influenza season, as we are focusing on the priorities in our communities, of keeping our businesses, our schools open for the health and well-being of all of our communities. Now is a time where we need to control and manage our social gatherings, to keep this virus in check, and prevent it from spreading to those in our family and our community who are going to be most affected by it.”

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She said people looking to get married, for instance, may want to consider having a small civil ceremony and save large celebrations for next year.

“When it is safe for us to do that with those family and loved ones that we care about.”

With the new cases, the total in B.C. climbs to 12,331. Most of the new cases involve people 30 to 50 years old, she said, while some are linked to Thanksgiving get-togethers and workplace connections, such as carpooling.

Henry reported no new deaths, as well as no new outbreaks.

She credited the identification of the first outbreak at a B.C. school to contact tracing.

“The identification of this outbreak came because of the work that we’re doing with schools across the province, to monitor and to contact trace anybody who has been exposed in our school system,” Henry said.

The outbreak at École de l’Anse-au-sable, a French-language school in Kelowna, is up to five confirmed cases from three originally, while 160 people remain in isolation after being exposed.

Henry said since school restarted in September, 213 exposure events have been recorded, with the majority being in the Fraser and Vancouver Coastal health regions. About two-thirds of school exposures involve staff, she added.

“We’ve had six clusters or where more than one person in the school has been identified has been exposed within that school. And this is our first outbreak,” she said of École de l’Anse-au-sable.

While many of the new cases are concentrated in the Lower Mainland, she said transmission is spreading across the province.

“We all, as social creatures, need to come together. We want to be with the people we love for the celebrations. And it is very hard to keep to those important limits that helped prevent transmission of this virus,” she added.

“Show you care, like keeping those outside your immediate household off your invite list right now. Sometimes it’s very challenging for people to say no, because we want to be supportive, we want to be together with our families, but it is not safe for everybody right now, and we need to recognize that and accept that.”

Of 1,920 active cases in B.C., 71 people are in hospital, including 24 in intensive care.

Another 4,425 people under active public health monitoring after being exposed to COVID-19.