B.C. marks 'sobering' weekend record of 817 COVID cases

The party's over – public health officer announces new restrictions on family gatherings

B.C. marked a “sobering” milestone over the weekend in its fight against COVID-19 – a record 817 cases since Friday.

Since Friday, there have been four new outbreaks at long-term care homes, three deaths and two school closures.

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There were 817 new COVID-19 cases confirmed since Friday.

“This is a bit of a sobering weekend for us,” said provincial health officer Bonnie Henry, who announced a new provincial health order for family gatherings. "This is the largest number of cases that we've had in a three-day period. And it is concerning to us that we continue to see growth, particularly in the Lower Mainland and the Fraser Health Region."

 

Two public schools have been closed due to outbreaks -- one in the Fraser Valley and one in the Interior. It is the first time schools have been closed due to outbreaks.

"We knew, of course, this would be a possibility, especially in some of the smaller schools where the potential of exposure impacts a larger proportiona of the school population," Henry said.

There are four new outbreaks in long-term care homes: Queen's Park Centre, Amenida Seniors Community, Agassiz Seniors Community, and Banfield Pavilion. Oubreaks have been declared over three long-term care homes.

There are a total of 19 long-term care or assisted living facilities with outbreaks and two acute care facilities. There has been one outbreak at the Surrey Pretrial Centre.

The spike in cases is largely due to social gatherings, including parties and family gatherings and dinners.

“Having large gatherings in our homes is too dangerous,” Henry said. She added that the soaring cases in some areas are now "stretching our resources to manage contact tracing."

Under a new public health order, gatherings in private homes will be restricted to immediate family members and an additional six others.

"For some large families, even that may be too many," Henry said.

The new restrictions will have implications for weddings, funerals, and family dinners, like Christmas dinners and Haloween parties.

Henry said she hoped enforcement of the new order won't be needed, but said authorities do have the power to shut down large family gatherings and parties that are deemed to exceed guidelines.

"For a small number of people who may choose to disregard the order, enforcement will be stepped up," Henry said.

Henry also said she is stepping up the "expectation" that everyone wear masks in all public places when indoors. While she it is not an "order," she asks all businesses to review their plans and increase vigilance in requring customers to wear masks indoors.

Despite the soaring cases in what has been officially declared a second wave, Henry said she would not be ordering restaurants closed, as there has not been any significant transmissions linked to restaurants.

As B.C.enters flu season during a second wave of COVID-19, Henry warned: "We are going into a very challenging and difficult few months."

Here are the daily case counts for Monday, October 26, with numbers from Friday, October 23, the last reporting period, in brackets:

New cases: 817 (223)

BC Total: 13,371 (12,554)

Active cases: 2,325 (2,009)

Hospitalized: 77 (75)

Intensive care: 26 (24)

Deaths: 259 (256)

Confirmed cases by region:

Vancouver Coastal Health: 4,428

Fraser Health: 7,529

Island Health: 250

Interior Health: 639

Northern Health: 383

nbennett@biv.com

@nbennett_biv

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