B.C. reports 998 new cases of COVID-19 and 5 more deaths since Saturday
As of Saturday, sweeping restrictions were placed on the Vancouver Coastal Health and Fraser Health regions
- 998 new cases of COVID-19 confirmed over last 48 hours, with 95 per cent in Fraser Health and Vancouver Coastal Health regions.
- 5 more people have died.
- 133 patients are now in hospital with COVID-19, including 43 in intensive care. There are 4,891 active cases.
- Sweeping new restrictions are in place for Fraser Health and Vancouver Coastal Health for the next two weeks.
- Social interactions are restricted to your household and only essential travel is permitted.
- Indoor group fitness activities have been suspended and will be allowed to resume after new guidelines are developed and safety plans are approved.
B.C. has confirmed another 998 cases of COVID-19 and five more deaths from the disease over the last two days, as people in the Lower Mainland begin to live under strict new restrictions meant to prevent transmission.
Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provided the latest update in a live briefing on Monday, saying that the number of active cases across the province has risen to a new high of 4,891.
Hospitalization rates have risen again and there are now 133 people in hospital with COVID-19, including 43 in intensive care. In comparison, last Monday there were 90 people in hospital and 19 patients in intensive care.
The province has now confirmed a total of 18,714 cases of the novel coronavirus to date, including 281 people who have died. A total of 9,179 people are under active monitoring by public health workers because of exposure to the virus.
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Monday's briefing follows the announcement this weekend of sweeping new COVID-19 restrictions for the Vancouver Coastal Health and Fraser Health regions for a two-week period as cases in the province surge. The new orders focus on social gatherings, travel, indoor group exercises and workplaces.
Henry said it's time to return to the strict safety measures that people were following in the spring when the pandemic began, postponing social gatherings, cancelling play dates, working from home whenever possible and pausing non-essential travel.
"This latest action in our COVID-19 response is about putting the brakes on the virus," she said.
The goal is to stop the rapid spread of COVID-19 that has been seen in recent weeks, while still allowing the health-care and school systems to operate normally.
"If you are in doubt about whether to travel or whether to see somebody, don't do it," Henry said.
The two Lower Mainland health regions account for the vast majority of new cases announced Monday, with 210 in the Vancouver Coastal Health region and 737 in the Fraser Health region.
Strict rules for Fraser Health and Vancouver Coastal Health
Residents of the Vancouver Coastal Health and Fraser Health regions are being told not to have social interactions with anyone outside of their immediate household. The province clarified on Sunday that the ban on gatherings from people outside your household includes outdoor gatherings and gatherings in restaurants.
Henry has strongly recommended that travel in and out of the Fraser Health and Vancouver Coastal Health regions be limited to essential trips only.
Businesses and recreation centres that operate indoor group physical activities — like spin classes, yoga, and exercise classes — have been told to suspend these activities.
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Henry said public health workers are still developing new guidelines to allow indoor group fitness activities to resume, and once those are ready, business owners and other operators will need to have new safety plans approved.
However, Henry is also reiterating a message she has shared again and again since the beginning of B.C.'s COVID-19 outbreak — while the virus spreads easily indoors, it is safe to be outside. She urged people to go for a walk, even a walk with a friend, if you keep them at a safe distance.
Despite the severe new restrictions in parts of the province, Henry encouraged optimism for the months ahead.
"We have been through hard times before. Remembrance Day is a time to remember that. We can and we will prevail," she said.
"It may be dark now, but there is light ahead."
On that note, she said it was "fantastic" to hear that Pfizer and BioNTech had seen promising preliminary results in Phase 3 clinical trials of a potential COVID-19 vaccine. Henry stressed that those results are still quite early in the process and she hasn't seen the data, but if the results hold, it's possible a vaccine could be available early in 2021.
Health Minister Adrian Dix said that while the number of COVID-19 patients in hospital is rising steadily, the health-care system is prepared for the possibility of a surge, with more than 1,000 vacant beds available across the province.
"For the next 14 days, we need to be focused on doing less. No one says this will be easy. But each of us need to take the actions we need to take to stop the spread," he said.
Monday's update also included two new outbreaks in long-term care. There are now 32 active outbreaks in long-term care and assisted living facilities, and five in acute care units of hospitals.
B.C. Premier John Horgan earlier Monday urged the population to tighten up on their social interactions as cases of COVID-19 explode across the Lower Mainland, saying if the numbers don't improve, the province could have to return to the peak restrictions seen in March.
With files from Roshini Nair