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 COVID-19 exposure has been confirmed at Pearson Road Elementary in Rutland Saturday, March 6, 2021. (Barry Gerding - Black Press Media)
COVID-19 exposure at Kelowna elementary school

Interior Health confirms virus exposure at Pearson Road Elementary

Fire ripped through a mobile home on Boucherie Road in West Kelowna on March. 6. (Phil McLachlan - West Kelowna News)
‘My whole life just went up in smoke’; Fire consumes West Kelowna mobile home

RCMP confirmed that there were no injuries due to the fire

A render of the proposed expansion at Kelowna Christian School. (City of Kelowna)
City of Kelowna staff support major expansion of local school

Expansion would increase the size of Kelowna Christian School by roughly 3,540 square metres

More than $2 billion in private scholarships are available each year to deserving students for filling out some paperwork, writing an essay or two and occasionally being interviewed in person or over the phone. (Mangostock/Dreamstime.com photo)
Kelowna student awarded Canada-wide scholarship

The $5,000 Horatio Alger Association of Canada award recipient Madison Delaurier attends Rutland Secondary School

COVID creature characters featured in new video by Kelowna resident that attempts to bring a little humour to counter the fear and uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. (Contributed)
Kelowna man’s music video confronts COVID stress with humour

Power guitar tune combats pandemic uncertainty

The James C Richardson Pipe Band marches in a Remembrance Day parade on Nov. 11, 2019 in Chilliwack. Wednesday, March 10 is International Bagpipe Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of March 7 to 13

International Bagpipe Day, Wash Your Nose Day and Kidney Day are all coming up this week

Hockey hall-of-fame legend Wayne Gretzky, right, watches the casket of his father, Walter Gretzky, as it is carried from the church during a funeral service in Brantford, Ont., Saturday, March 6, 2021. HE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky remembered as a man with a ‘heart of gold’ at funeral

The famous hockey father died Thursday at age 82 after battling Parkinson’s disease

Donald Alan Sweet was once an all star CFL kicker who played for the Montreal Alouettes and Montreal Concordes over a 13-year career. Photo courtesy of Mission RCMP.
Retired B.C. teacher and star CFL kicker charged for assault, sexual crimes against former students

Donald Sweet taught in Mission School District for 10 years, investigators seek further witnesses

Highway 14 (Sooke Road) is closed between Impala Road and Humpback Road after one man was shot dead Friday night. (Black Press Media file photo)
One man shot dead on Vancouver Island in possible ‘targeted incident’

Highway 14 closed in Metchosin, detour made available early Saturday

Personal protective equipment is seen in the COVID-19 intensive care unit at St. Paul’s hospital in downtown Vancouver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
$16.9 million invested to improve worker safety, strengthen B.C.’s food supply chain

Money to be used for social distancing, personal protective equipment, cleaning, and air circulation

A member of the Vernon Search and Rescue winch helicopter team pulls a skier who broke her leg at the gorge backcountry area east of Sicamous into the helicopter on Friday March 5. (Shuswap Search and Rescue/Facebook)
Search and rescue helicopter helps injured skier out of Shuswap backcountry

The Salmon Arm woman broke her leg, but was helped out of the bush thanks to radio communication.

More than ever before, as pandemic conditions persist, the threat of data breaches and cyberattacks continues to grow, according to SFU professor Michael Parent. (Pixabay photo)
SFU expert unveils 5 ways the COVID-19 pandemic has forever changed cybersecurity

Recognizing these changes is the first in a series of steps to mitigate them once the pandemic ends, and before the next: Michael Parent

C.E. “Ned” Bentley owned a garage on Shaughnessy Avenue, now Lakeshore Drive in Summerland. Bentley later went on to serve on Summerland’s council and was recognized with the Good Citizen Award in 1939. (Summerland Museum photo)
Former Summerland reeve once ran garage

C.E. “Ned” Bentley was a prominent figure in Summerland’s past.

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Most Read