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

Peace Arch Hospital Foundation executive director Stephanie Beck speaks at a 2017 groundbreaking ceremony. In March 2020, she announced the Rapid Response Grant Program, aimed at providing financial assistance during the pandemic. (File photo)
Peace Arch Hospital Foundation launches youth program

Youth in Action designed for students who want to make an impact in their community

The RCMP logo is seen outside Royal Canadian Mounted Police “E” Division Headquarters, in Surrey, B.C., on April 13, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Surrey RCMP asking for dash-cam video of ‘suspicious incident’

Incident involves a newer model Toyota Rav 4 SUV

Surrey RCMP are investigating a “serious” collision near Cloverdale Saturday evening. (Curtis Kreklau photo)
Surrey RCMP investigating ‘serious’ collision in Cloverdale

Witness says vehicle collided with utility pole at approximately 9:30 p.m.

Police tape is shown in Toronto Tuesday, May 2, 2017. Statistics Canada says the country's crime rate ticked up again in 2018, for a fourth year in a row, though it was still lower than it was a decade ago. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
CRIME STOPPERS: ‘Most wanted’ for the week of March 7

Crime Stoppers’ weekly list based on information provided by police investigators

An animated Gordie Hogg introduces his 'Community Connections' videos. (YouTube screenshot)
Community Connections: Gordie Hogg speaks with Denise Stevenson

Former mayor, MP began posting conversations on YouTube in June

(The Canadian Press)
‘Worse than Sept. 11, SARS and financial crisis combined’: Tourism industry in crisis

Travel services saw the biggest drop in active businesses with 31 per cent fewer firms operating

Pictures and notes in from friends and classmates make up a memorial in support and memory of Aubrey Berry, 4, and her sister Chloe, 6, during a vigil held at Willows Beach in Oak Bay, B.C., on December 30, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Mother of slain daughters supports recent changes to Canada’s Divorce Act

Sarah Cotton-Elliott said she believed her children took a back seat to arranging equal parenting

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

Victoria man Brett Andersen is asking for people’s help to secure him one of eight free tickets to the moon. (Screenshot/@brettandersen Instagram)
Victoria man wants your help securing a free ticket to the moon

Japanese billionaire offering eight people a trip to the moon

The Conservation Officers Service is warning aquarium users after invasive and potentially destructive mussels were found in moss balls from a pet store. (BC Conservation Officers Service/Facebook)
Aquarium users in B.C. warned after invasive mussels found at pet store

Conservation officers were told the mussels were found in a moss ball from a Terrace pet store.

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

The family of injured Willoughby resident Ronald Gerald Jesso is hoping someone saw something that will help solve the mystery of how he came to be so badly hurt on the morning of Feb. 22. Jesso is still in hospital. (Jesso family/Special to Langley Advance Times)
An appeal to help solve the mystery of an injured Langley man

Family of Ronald Gerald Jesso asks witnesses to come forward

Most Read