Virus cases linked to indoor par­ties

Keep gath­er­ings small, know who you’re with, health min­is­ter urges

Times Colonist - - The Capital And Vancouver Island - BRENNA OWEN

Bri­tish Columbia’s health min­is­ter is urg­ing res­i­dents not to at­tend pri­vate par­ties and gath­er­ings if they don’t have the de­tails after a re­cent in­crease in the num­ber of COVID-19 cases in the prov­ince.

Health Min­is­ter Adrian Dix said dur­ing a brief­ing on Tues­day that many of the lat­est cases stem from such events and the num­bers serve as a re­minder that peo­ple must ad­here to pub­lic health rules.

“If you’re be­ing in­vited to a pri­vate party and you don’t know who’s there, and you don’t know the guest list, and you don’t know the num­bers, [it’s] some­thing I strongly urge you not to at­tend,” he said. “This is the time to keep num­bers small.”

Provin­cial health of­fi­cer Dr. Bon­nie Henry re­ported that 146 new cases of COVID-19 have been de­tected since Fri­day as ac­tive cases climbed to 319.

Two new con­firmed cases were re­ported in the Is­land Health re­gion, bringing the to­tal to date to 146. Four of those cases are ac­tive; 137 peo­ple have re­cov­ered. There have been five deaths at­trib­uted to the virus in the re­gion.

The lat­est cases share many com­mon fac­tors, Henry noted, in­clud­ing talk­ing, laugh­ing and shar­ing drinks and food, es­pe­cially in close, indoor set­tings, as well as spend­ing time in crowded ar­eas.

The con­tacts of the vast ma­jor­ity of the new cases are be­ing traced, she said, adding that’s pos­si­ble be­cause trans­mis­sion re­mains low and res­i­dents must work to en­sure it stays that way.

“We are able to find out where you’ve been ex­posed and we know that many of those [ex­po­sures] are over­lap­ping so­cial cir­cles, where pri­vate par­ties, over the pe­riod of the last few weeks, have led to peo­ple pass­ing it to their friends and their fam­ily.”

Henry en­cour­aged peo­ple to re­mem­ber where they have been and to mon­i­tor for any symp­toms.

“The immediate days following a long week­end are when peo­ple can also un­know­ingly spread the virus to oth­ers,” she said.

“We also need to pay attention to where these ex­po­sure events [hap­pened], and if need be, we need to im­me­di­ately limit our time with oth­ers if we were at one of the events.”

In re­sponse to a pe­ti­tion that is pick­ing up steam in op­po­si­tion to school re­open­ing, Henry said she un­der­stands there is anx­i­ety about the start of the school year.

“We know that some chil­dren will fall be­hind and will never catch up and this will af­fect them for the rest of their lives. It is that im­por­tant for us to be able to have school, man­age school, de­spite hav­ing a pan­demic,” she said, adding phys­i­cal dis­tanc­ing mea­sures will be in place.

“It is finding that bal­ance of mak­ing sure we’re do­ing everything we can to re­duce the risk, know­ing that this virus is go­ing to be with us, and we need to find a way to live with it and still have those ab­so­lutely crit­i­cal learn­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties for chil­dren.”

Dix echoed Henry, say­ing schools should be pri­or­i­tized among all the sec­tors, busi­nesses and or­ga­ni­za­tions that have re­opened as part of the prov­ince’s restart plan.

The B.C. gov­ern­ment also ex­tended its state of emer­gency on Tues­day through to Aug. 18.

There have been no ad­di­tional deaths linked to COVID-19 in B.C., leav­ing the prov­ince’s death toll at 195, while 3,273 peo­ple have re­cov­ered from the ill­ness.

Henry said there are now 74 cases linked with an out­break at a fruit pack­ing fa­cil­ity near Ab­bots­ford.

One staff mem­ber at Maple Ridge Se­niors Vil­lage has tested pos­i­tive, she said, while another health-care out­break in Mis­sion has been de­clared over, leav­ing three on­go­ing out­breaks at longterm care or as­sisted-liv­ing fa­cil­i­ties in the prov­ince.

GOV­ERN­MENT OF B.C.

At the leg­is­la­ture Tues­day, provin­cial health of­fi­cer Dr. Bon­nie Henry and Health Min­is­ter Adrian Dix pro­vide an up­date on COVID-19.

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