FILE – Dr. Réka Gustafson, B.C.’s deputy provincial health officer, updates the province’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. cabinet offices in Vancouver, Aug. 17, 2020. (B.C. government)

FILE – Dr. Réka Gustafson, B.C.’s deputy provincial health officer, updates the province’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. cabinet offices in Vancouver, Aug. 17, 2020. (B.C. government)

B.C. reports 6 new COVID-19 deaths and a record-breaking 1,120 cases over the weekend

The majority of new cases, and all deaths, happened in the Lower Mainland

B.C. shattered a new set of records with 1,120 new COVID-19 cases over the Halloween weekend, said deputy provincial health officer Dr. Réka Gustafson on Monday (Nov. 2).

Gustafson said six people died due to the virus since Friday, five in Vancouver Coastal Health and one in Fraser Health. All were seniors in long-term care facilities.

Broken down by day, there were 352 new cases from Friday to Saturday, setting the new single-day case record with 389 from Saturday to Sunday and 379 from Sunday to Monday. Fraser Health continue to get the majority of infections, making up 830 (74 per cent) of the weekend’s cases. There were a further 234 in Vancouver Coastal Health, 36 in Interior Health, 10 in Northern Health and nine on Vancouver Island.

There have now been a total of 15,501 confirmed COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began, while the death toll is at 269. There have been three new health care outbreaks for a total of 28 in B.C; 26 are in long-term care and two are in acute care.

There are currently 2,945 active cases in B.C., with 6,448 people under public health monitoring. There are currently 90 in hospital, 19 of whom are in ICU. All currently hospitalized COVID-19 patients are in either Fraser Health or Vancouver Coastal Health.

“These numbers are concerning for all of us,” Gustafson said. “When we do experience these surges, we need to respond with increased effort and stepped up focus.”

After a weekend that saw outrage online over people partying in Downtown Vancouver, Gustafson said health officials still believed that most people were doing their best to slow the spread of the virus.

However, with cases continuing to surge, she said it was “best to avoid all crowded situations and limit your number of contacts” as B.C. heads into the fall and winter holiday season.

VIDEO: Halloween crowds gather in Downtown Vancouver despite B.C. top doctor’s plea to avoid parties

“We know that being inside and in close contact with others increases our risk, and that has been a significant cause of new cases,” Gustafson said. “That’s why it’s important to keep our groups small at home and elsewhere.”

Health Minister Adrian Dix said the province, and the whole world, was “in a significant new phase of the pandemic,” that required people to follow public health guidelines.

“We need to do that together right now. We need to turn the tide on COVID-19 in B.C.,” he said.

Dix said the majority of cases are being transmitted indoors, not at outdoor gatherings. The latest public health order in B.C. limits gatherings at private homes to the household plus their “safe six.” Due to having the majority of new cases, Fraser Health residents are being asked to stick to only their household for in-home gatherings, and to meet at a venue with a COVID-19 safety plan if they wish to include others.

Dix did acknowledge that it must be “incredibly frustrating” for people who have been following public health orders to see crowds flouting COVID-19 rules and recommendations over the weekend.

Gustafson said that while further public health orders to slow transmission are possible, it’s impossible to predict exactly what they will be. The deputy public health officer said that whatever those measures are will be targeted at problem areas for the virus’s spread, and not at activities that are being done safely.

“Thought goes into this, all the time,” she said. “We certainly are monitoring the data all the time.”


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katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

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