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Further restrictions may be put in place, Christmas not cancelled: BC health minister

Last Updated Nov 3, 2020 at 3:55 pm PST

FILE - Health Minister Adrian Dix. (Courtesy B.C. Government, Flickr)
Summary

More COVID-19 restrictions could be put in place, but B.C.'s health minister isn't hinting at what kind of when

Dix acknowledges people are frustrated with pandemic rules, but B.C. needs to re-commit to following protocols

Despite the high case counts, Dix says Christmas isn't cancelled this year

VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) – With B.C.’s COVID-19 numbers trending in the wrong direction, it’s entirely possible further restrictions could be brought in to help lower case numbers. When that may happen or what further limitations we may see are not being divulged by Health Minister Adrian Dix just yet.

“Every day we have more and more contact tracers working with people to help stop transmission, to assist people who are sick and to help support people in self-isolation,” explains Dix, in a one-on-one interview with NEWS 1130. “This is the most massive public health effort we’ve ever seen and it’s happening right now. It doesn’t happen at the briefings, it’s happening right now and there are in [the] Fraser Health [region], hundreds of people right now working with people who have tested positive and their contacts to try and keep them as safe as possible. We are full-on, 100 per cent all in.”

The most recent public health order issued by the province’s top doctor, Dr. Bonnie Henry, came down in the last week of October when she announced people had to restrict their interactions with people to those in their homes and an outside safe six.

“If more actions are required, and they may be required, then more action will be taken with respect to restrictions, but we’ve taken some significant action now and the level of effort in public health is beyond anything we’ve seen in a long, long time,” adds Dix.

B.C. has seen a steady increase in COVID-19 cases and for weeks health officials have been placing much of the blame on large private gatherings. Dix feels one of the best ways to get current figures down is by simply following the rules that have been in place for months, like washing your hands, wearing a mask and keeping your distance. He also says having no guests at all to your home is best practice.

Although, he’s not hinting at what new restrictions we may see, he says whatever move the province makes has to be carefully calculated, adding they don’t want to see any consequences.

“For example, last week, the week before that and the week before that, we did more surgeries in B.C. than we typically do. In fact, we did a record number of surgeries in the month of October and we want to do those because people need those and they’re waiting for those. And what we’ve been working on is, given we knew the likelihood of a second wave and we knew this is respiratory illness season, to try and prepare for that,” Dix says. “There are important things we need to do. We need to have our schools open and there are consequences if you don’t for children. We need to have surgeries done. We need to have our hospitals be able to take care of all the other things and we need to understand the impact of COVID-19 on the [opioid] overdose crisis and we need to have businesses open and society functioning. So, that makes it a major challenge what we’re trying to do now. We need to take the actions required but we also have to understand that those actions have other consequences so we’ve got to be, as much as possible, precise about what we do.”

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Tighter lockdown measures have been put in many other countries where a second wave has really taken hold and in other provinces and major cities right across Canada where numbers are simply too high. Dix was asked, why not do the same in B.C.?

“I think you have to put it in context. The numbers we got yesterday were not about [Halloween] weekend. What they reflect really is what was going on prior to the [public health] order and as serious, as aggravating and lousy as the behaviour was on the Granville strip on Saturday evening, our main concern about transmission or things that are not often caught on video are private parties that occur. They can be very natural parties, they can be birthday parties. If you looked at them you would say, ‘These are ideal events for where transmission can occur,’ and that was the purpose of the order was to focus in on where transmission occurs. It remains to be seen how people have responded to that last weekend because we’ll start to see those results next weekend but we have to dig in and ensure those orders are followed and we communicate that effectively,” says Dix.

Despite the rising case numbers and senseless behaviour of so many on Granville Street in Downtown Vancouver on Halloween night, Dix stresses, overall, he’s proud of how British Columbians have handled the pandemic so far.
“I think people, in general, are very positive and want to take action and they want us to help them find the right actions to take to keep the ones they love safe and to keep themselves safe. We got to continue to take those actions.”

Dix acknowledges people are frustrated, anxious and frankly fed up with the pandemic. He admits he is as well, but is asking people to re-commit to following the rules.

The majority of new cases are in Metro Vancouver, specifically in the Fraser Health region but Dix says hospitals province-wide are able to handle the onslaught right now and are in good shape.

The health minister says despite all the doom and gloom of what’s happening, the B.C. government is not “cancelling” Christmas.

“We can do this but we really need right now, as hard as it is and as long as it’s been, to stick to it. Follow public health orders because we love the ones we love and to do that because we’re good people and we’re working together to fight something that is harming people throughout the world. There will always be a discussion about what government does and doesn’t do and I accept those criticisms and sometimes the credit as well, but I think people have been good and we have to bear down now because the days are getting shorter, the weather is getting worse and we’re going to be indoors more and indoors is where COVID-19 lives, indoors is where it transmits itself and indoors is where we have to be careful. And that’s why, unfortunately, in this time of year when we want to celebrate together, we’re going to have to find new ways virtually to do that.”