British Columbia

12 more lives lost to COVID-19 in B.C., as 834 new cases confirmed

Another 12 people have died of COVID-19 in B.C. and 834 new cases have been confirmed, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced Wednesday.

Indoor adult team sports are now banned; kids' sports must return to Phase 2 guidelines

Vancouver’s downtown skyline is pictured from Vanier Park in English Bay in Vancouver, British Columbia on Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2020. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Another 12 people have died of COVID-19 in B.C. and 834 new cases have been confirmed, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced Wednesday.

There are now 8,941 active cases across the province, and the number of patients in hospital has risen to another new high of 337, including 79 in critical care.

Henry acknowledged that many British Columbians are feeling worn down by the pandemic and feeling fatigued by months of restrictions on daily life.

"COVID-19 is taking a toll on all of us," she said. "I am asking you all to continue and do a little bit more."

To date, there have been 34,728 confirmed cases of the disease in B.C., including 469 people who have died. A total of 10,201 people are currently in isolation because of contact with known cases of the virus.

New sports ban

Wednesday's update also includes a new ban on indoor adult team sports, including everything from basketball and hockey to cheerleading and combat sports. 

Children's sports are returning to Phase 2 guidelines, which means no contact, no travel and modified training.

Henry said she knows some sports teams have ignored her order against travelling, and that ended with an old timers' hockey team in the Interior bringing back the virus from games in Alberta, resulting in dozens of cases in their local community.

Henry declined to identify the community, but said the returned players infected family members and co-workers. She also said that the situation is not unique in B.C.

'I'm asking you to stay home'

Wednesday's update included two new community outbreaks — one at the Cove Shelter in Surrey and another at Millennium Pacific Greenhouses.

There are also three new outbreaks in the health-care system, including two hospital outbreaks announced by Island Health on Tuesday. Currently, there are 54 active outbreaks in long-term care and assisted living and seven in hospitals.

Though case numbers remain highest in B.C.'s Lower Mainland, the pandemic has caught up to the rest of the province

In the past three weeks, COVID-19 cases have stayed steady in Vancouver Coastal Health and doubled in Fraser Health  — but they've gone up by nearly 500 per cent in the rest of B.C.

As B.C.'s caseload continues to grow and hospitalizations creep ever higher, Henry said everyone needs to stay within their local communities when it comes to sports and recreational travel.

"I cannot order you not to get into a car or get onto a plane, but I'm asking you to stay home," she said.

All community events and social gatherings involving anyone outside someone's immediate household remain banned as well.

The current orders restricting social interactions, recreational activities and events are set to expire on Dec. 7. Henry said health officials will be reviewing them and looking at the evidence right up until the deadline to determine if they need to continue.

Despite the grim news on the pandemic coming out of every daily briefing on COVID-19, Henry pointed to the U.K.'s approval of the Pfizer vaccine as a sign of hope.

"This is, of course, very exciting news for all of us … but it's going to be some time before we get there," she said.

She added that while approved vaccines may arrive in Canada within weeks, in the meantime, B.C. continues to lose people to the disease every day and transmission is unchecked.

Asked about whether the vaccine should be mandatory, particularly for those who work in the health-care system, Henry said Canada has never had mandatory vaccinations and that isn't going to change because of COVID-19.

However, she said that anyone thinking of working in health who doesn't believe in vaccines or objects to immunizations should choose a different career.

She was also asked about recent demonstrations by those who believe COVID-19 is a hoax and say she is hiding the truth. Henry said that those people represent a small minority in B.C., but it does make her angry to hear those things.

"This is very real. Ask anyone who has lost a loved one how real it is," she said.

With files from Roshini Nair

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