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B.C. extends ban on social gatherings to Feb. 5 as COVID-19 curve trends upwards

Last Updated Jan 7, 2021 at 6:40 pm PST

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix walk inside the B.C. Legislature in Victoria. (Courtesy Government of B.C./Flikr)

Current health orders, including the ban on gatherings, will continue until Feb. 5 as the curve trends upwards

Dr. Bonnie Henry detailed changes to how new cases will be reported

Another 761 new infections were reported and eight more people have died

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — The ban on social gatherings will continue into next month as the provincial health officer says the COVID-19 curve is trending upwards.

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry extended the current health orders to Feb. 5 at midnight saying the number of new COVID-19 cases in the province indicates people made their own exceptions to the measures over the holidays.

“It may seem inconsequential, it may not have been done with the understanding of the impact it could have,” she said.

In addition to not socializing with people outside one’s immediate household, the renewed order restricts all in-person events and gatherings, including in-person religious services.

RELATED: B.C. should extend COVID-19 restriction to control variant virus spread: expert

“This virus doesn’t know that we haven’t seen our friends in months. It doesn’t know that it’s our grandmother’s birthday,” she added. “This is our riskiest time right now. We cannot let our guard as vaccine is just beginning. This is our winter, but we know spring will come.”

To date, 41,064 people have been immunized against COVID-19.

Deaths in B.C. reached 920 Thursday after eight more people lost their lives to the virus.

Two more people have tested positive for the U.K. virus mutation, who are both household contacts of the first infected person. That person travelled from the U.K. to Vancouver Island in December.

“We do not believe that anybody else is at risk of this variant,” Henry said, adding testing and monitoring continues.

‘Every case still counted’ in new reporting system

The extended orders come as Henry details changes to how cases are reported that will show daily infections higher for a few days, including Thursday when she announced 761 new cases.

Since updated numbers date back to last January, case counts this week will seem to fluctuate.

Henry says data reporting will be improving based on lab result dates rather than the date the information is reported to the BC Centre for Disease Control.

“Our new system is going to be based on automatically reporting lab-confirmed cases from the previous day,” she said.

By changing the system to have the lab directly report to the BCCDC and health authorities, it will remove a day or so of lag.

She explains the case counts are a “snapshot in time” and the rolling averages help understand trends in the pandemic.

“Importantly, what remains the same is every case is still counted, and every person who’s positive is still notified as soon as possible, and contact tracing and follow up, particularly, to identify new clusters and outbreaks continues as usual,” Henry said.

The province is also providing data for long-term care and assisted living outbreaks. Going forward, the data will be released weekly.