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British Columbians need to follow COVID orders, say expert, health minister, as case numbers rise

Last Updated Apr 5, 2021 at 6:34 am PDT

FILE -- Specimens to be tested for COVID-19 are seen at a lab, in Surrey, B.C., on Thursday, March 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Infectious diseases expert says 'people need to be responsible' as COVID-19 case counts surge in B.C.

As B.C.'s case numbers continue to rise, health minister says restrictions are tough, but people need to follow them

Variant spread continues to raise concerns across B.C.

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – After a record-breaking long weekend for daily COVID-19 cases in B.C., the province’s health minister is frustrated with the behaviour of people ignoring restrictions and public health orders.

B.C.’s daily counts topped 1,000 both for the time periods between Thursday to Friday, and Friday to Saturday.

The expectation is that trend will likely have continued into this week, with concerns raised about variants, how younger people are being affected, and the increasing pressure on hospitals.

One doctor’s tweets went viral over the weekend, with Dr. Kevin Mcleod saying young people are landing in the hospital in serious situations, warning B.C.’s problem could get significantly worse.

“It’s many patients in that 20 to 50 year old group. Most do not seem to have co morbidities,” he writes. “This will go very badly if people don’t wise up. Don’t travel right now. At this pace of admissions our COVID unit will be over capacity before Tuesday.

Health Minister Adrian Dix said on Sunday the province has some tough restrictions — but people need to follow them.

When asked whether current measures are enough, he suggested it’s more about compliance.

“They’re very strict measures and right now we need everyone to dig in, understand that this is the time to follow those measures. And I think, for the most part, people are, although obviously it remains a big challenge,” he told reporters.

UBC infectious diseases expert Horacio Bach agrees, noting as more contagious variants overtake the original strain of the COVID-19 virus, people need to pay attention.

“We cannot leave everything to the government to solve if we don’t [do] out part. People need to be responsible,” Bach said, pointing to rule breakers as a problem.

He also believes the number of infections will likely climb more, as temperatures get warmer, the weather gets sunnier, and people relax further.

We also still don’t know what effects Spring Break may have had, with Bach warning that result will come in the next weeks.

Variant concerns

Bach explains the variants we’re dealing with right now are more transmissible than the original coronavirus strain.

The P.1 variant, first identified in Brazil, has been reported as one of the more dominant ones in B.C. The B.1.1.7, first reported in the U.K., continues to be the most dominant here.

“We need to understand that viruses … fight all the time. As we have a competition, the viruses also have competition, so the ones that have some benefits over the rest will take over. That we are seeing more and more,” Bach explained, adding we need to keep a close watch on these variants, how they impact the body, and what lasting effects they may or may not have.

“We don’t know yet. It’s just starting, and, unfortunately, we need to wait,” he told NEWS 1130.

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With all this uncertainty, Bach notes the importance of vaccines and getting as many people inoculated as possible.

Current restrictions, announced just last week, ban indoor dining, indoor, in-person religious gatherings, and a number of other activities.

Over the weekend, a pair of restaurants in Vancouver drew attention after they vowed to continue indoor dining service, despite orders against that.

Dix said restrictions on restaurants and other industries were targeted in order to stop the spread of COVID-19.

“I know it’s hard for restaurants, it’s obviously hard for restaurants and the implications of the decision to stop indoor dining are profound for them, but it’s necessary right now to stop the transmission of this virus which is vicious,” he said Sunday.

-With files from Monika Gul and Lisa Steacy