B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announce province-wide travel and other restrictions at the B.C. legislature, Nov. 19, 2020. (B.C. government)

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announce province-wide travel and other restrictions at the B.C. legislature, Nov. 19, 2020. (B.C. government)

Latest COVID-19 restrictions starting to show results in B.C.

Lower Mainland ‘spillover’ affects health care, other regions

The first two weeks of restricting social gatherings to household groups has started to show results in slowing the spread of COVID-19 in the Lower Mainland, prompting the expansion of private home and other restrictions across B.C. until at least Dec. 7.

“We have seen a decrease in the number of people who have been infected from attending social gatherings,” provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said as she announced the province-wide expansion of restrictions this week. “So, it is making a difference in the Lower Mainland. Now we need to focus on some of the workplace settings where we’re seeing increases and long-term care where we’re seeing increases.”

Social gatherings, indoors at home or outside at private, sporting or cultural events, are suspended for two weeks at least under Henry’s latest public health orders. Masks are now required for indoor retail and public shared areas, such as apartment and office building hallways and elevators.

B.C.’s coronavirus testing and contact tracing effort reached its limit in recent weeks, although with recent hires and reassignments, the daily tests completed reached a new record of 13,792 on Nov. 18. Since late September, the daily tests reported by the B.C. Centre for Disease Control have averaged about 10,000 a day, as positive tests climbed past 600 and then 700 a day in November. Thursday’s total of 538 new infections was the first decline in a week, but still much higher than B.C.’s first surge in the spring, when capacity for testing was much lower.

RELATED: Masks now mandatory in public, retail spaces in B.C.

RELATED: Recreational travel, religious services suspended

Health Minister Adrian Dix responded to calls for more localized community data on virus spread, which continues to be reported by health region, except for specific locations of community and school exposures around the province. Dix and Henry have maintained that community data can give a false sense of security, as seen with the recent surge in the Fraser Health region.

“In the middle of the summer in Fraser Health, a disproportionate number of our cases within Fraser Health were in the Abbotsford area,” Dix said. “Now it’s in Surrey, but we have cases throughout the province,” Dix said Nov. 19. “And just to put it in context, I think the number of cases today outside of the Metro Vancouver health authorities is 51. Well, four weeks ago that averaged about four or five.”

It’s the regional and provincial “spillover” that prompted the return to essential-only travel in the province, a further blow to tourism and accommodation operators who have struggled to survive on local or regional business only.

“What does this mean? It means yes, you can move about within your region,” Henry said. “If you live in Penticton, you can go to Summerland. If you live in Victoria and want to go to Tofino – not such a good idea right now.”

A key public health concern is not only the high number of daily cases, but the rising portion that have not been traced to any specific exposure site. Dix said contact tracing staff have been transferred from other areas to Fraser Health, and new hires are also being assigned to B.C.’s most populous health region.

Community cases get into the health care system as staff members are infected in the community, and there are currently more than 50 long-term and acute care facilities dealing with confirmed exposures.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC politicsCoronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A dust advisory has been issued in Vernon March 3, 2021. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
Road dust prompts air quality advisory in Vernon

The advisory will last until the next rainfall or until enough street sweeping work is done

The City Park dock in Kelowna was underwater due to rising Okanagan Lake flooding in 2017. (OBWB photo)
Okanagan facing extreme flooding risk

Water board calls for updated Okanagan Lake level management

(Phil McLachlan - Capital News file)
COVID-19 exposures on two Kelowna flights

The BCCDC announced two Pacific Coastal Airlines had potential COVID-19 exposures

The Township of Spallumcheen has approved $12,000 in COVID-19 Restart Grant funds to support the reopening and operation of the Historic O’Keefe Ranch March 1, 2021. (O’Keefe Ranch photo)
O’Keefe Ranch secures COVID-19 Restart funds

The historic Spallumcheen ranch has suffered significant losses due to restrictions on travel and gatherings

Longtime Vernon friends Zach Anderson, left, and Justin Mitchell discussed depression on social media. Anderson is in Perth, Australia, where he is partaking in a running event to raise money and awareness of depression in memory of longtime Morning Star editor Glenn Mitchell, Justin’s father. (Photo contributed)
Vernon man laces up for mental health challenge in honour of Glenn Mitchell

Zach Anderson, with blessing of Mitchell’s family, raising awareness of depression Down Under

Princeton Meals of Wheels one year trial will cost $92k

Program restarts, and volunteer drivers are needed

Beginning late Tuesday, anti-pipeline protesters blocked the intersection of Hastings Street and Clark Drive in Vancouver. (Instagram/Braidedwarriors)
Demonstrators block key access to Vancouver port over jail for pipeline protester

They group is protesting a 90-day jail sentence handed to a fellow anti-pipeline protester

A discarded blue surgical mask is shown hanging in a bush in Montreal, Sunday, Dec. 6, 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
B.C. RMT suspended for not wearing a mask after confirmed by undercover clients

College of Massage Therapists has 5 open files, said suspension necessary to protect public

Kelowna Olympian Malindi Elmore has been honoured locally for her contributions to the sport of running. She is one of five Okanagan athletes who received an athletic excellence award from PacificSport Okanagan, this week. (Contributed/UBC Okanagan)
Okanagan athletes, coaches honoured for achievements during pandemic

Among them, Kelowna’s Malindi Elmore and Jacob Rubuliak named Community Sport Heroes

From left to right, Slackwater Brewing’s assistant brewer Carri Kemp, co-founder Kelsey Peyton & shareholder Lyndi Cruickshank. Slackwater Brewing is releasing their second annual brew for International Women’s Day on March 8. (Submitted)
Penticton female brewmasters are “Making Waves” with their latest beer release

Making Waves is available across B.C. on March 8 in honour of International Women’s Day

A boat caught fire in Ladysmith Harbour on Saturday morning. (Photo submitted)
Missing woman’s remains recovered after Vancouver Island boat fire

Remains of a 60-year-old woman recovered after Feb. 27 boat fire took her life

Most Read