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Dr. Bonnie Henry clarifies new COVID-19 restrictions after weekend spike

FILE - Health Minister Adrian Dix and Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry. (Courtesy B.C. Government, Flickr) 
Summary

There have been 998 new COVID-19 cases in the past 48 hours, and five more deaths

Health officials clarified a new public health order restricting social gatherings, travel, indoor physical activity

VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) — In the past two weeks the number of active COVID-19 cases in B.C. has more than doubled, and health officials are stressing the need to abide by new restrictions in Metro Vancouver.

Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix clarified what people in the province need to do to stem the spread of the virus, as they announce 998 new cases in the past 48 hours and five more deaths Monday.

Hospitalizations are also rising with 133 people in hospital, 43 of whom are in critical care.

“There are times in a pandemic when we have to move very quickly to close the gaps and seal the cracks, and right now, especially in Vancouver Coastal Health and Fraser Health, this is that time. Our pandemic response depends on it. We know it’s asking a lot of 3 million people,” Dix says.

“We need to make a difference now in the number of new cases as quickly as we can. We all know why. Right now while these new orders are not what any of us want — not Dr. Henry, not me, not anybody — over 500 new cases a day, and increasing hospitalizations is not where we want to be. It’s concerning.”

New public health order is targeted to stop transmission

Henry acknowledged that Saturday’s announcement of a new, regional public health order restricting social gatherings, travel, and indoor physical activities until Nov. 23 caused some confusion. 

But she said the reason certain activities are being curtailed is designed to target situations in which the virus is currently spreading.

“This latest action in our COVID-19 response is about putting the brakes on the virus, it is a short term pause on non-essential activities and travel, to make sure our essential activities — like school, and work, and healthcare — can safely continue,” she said. “The focus is on reducing our social interactions and focusing on our priorities.”

 

So, Henry advised British Columbians — in all regions of the province — to “prioritize the critical over the optional.” She is encouraging people to work from home if they can, and to gather virtually instead of in-person.

“If you are in doubt about whether or not to see somebody, don’t. This is our time to regroup,” Henry said.

“The virus moves with people.”

Henry urged people to look back to the spring when considering how to scale things back: to gather virtually, to work from home if possible, to drop off meals rather than meeting at a restaurant.

Backyard barbecues, brunch with a group of friends, and playdates are all things Henry says should be delayed for at least two weeks.

Why are schools still open if gathering isn’t allowed? 

Henry reiterated that keeping kids in school is a priority, and clarified that cases are cropping up among students and teachers because of contacts outside of school.

“We’ve seen it around the world and we’ve seen it here in B.C. What happens in schools reflects what’s happening in the community. We have seen exposures at schools in the province, but we see very little transmission in schools,” Henry said.

“That’s why we are taking the measures that we’ve taken, to focus on reducing our social interactions, those interactions in our community that have led to spread so that we can protect our schools, and continue having our schools operating.”

With files from Liza Yuzda