11 more people die of COVID-19 in B.C., as province announces 911 new cases
Number of patients in hospital rises to 301 as total cases to date top 30,000
Another 911 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in B.C. and 11 more people have died, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced Friday.
The latest update also includes a new record of 301 patients in hospital with the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, including 69 in critical care. There are now 8,472 active cases of the virus across B.C.
Henry choked up as she spoke about the people who have died in the last 24 hours, saying that most were elderly, and all were loved by their families, friends and communities.
"I know we are all feeling the strain," she told British Columbians.
She asked everyone to treat others with compassion right now, understanding that you may not know what the people around you are going through. But the most important thing, she said, is to follow provincial orders and only socialize with your immediate household.
"Let's make this weekend a safe weekend for everybody," she said.
Watch | Henry delivers pointers for safer shopping this weekend:
A total of 10,430 people are now under active public health monitoring and in self-isolation because of exposure to known COVID-19 cases.
To date, there have been 30,884 confirmed cases of the virus in B.C. and 395 people have died.
Friday's update includes three new outbreaks in the health-care system. There are now 54 active outbreaks in long-term care and five in hospitals.
Asked to explain why the pandemic's second wave has been so deadly, with case numbers, hospitalizations and deaths eclipsing what was seen in the spring, Henry said there are a few factors to consider.
"We're learning about this virus all the time," she said.
Like influenza, it appears the novel coronavirus is somewhat seasonal, spreading more easily in the fall and winter. The cooler weather and associated human behaviour also create prime conditions for the virus to spread — people are spending more time indoors, in poorly ventilated spaces, she said.
Churches and temples no longer 'safe'
Henry said she's received many questions in recent days about the current ban on all community and social events across the province, particularly when it comes to faith-based gatherings. Unfortunately, there have been recent outbreaks in churches, temples and gurdwaras, she said.
"We are see a much higher level of community transmission," Henry explained. "This means places that were safe to have events a few weeks ago ... are not safe today. These locations are not doing anything wrong. They had COVID safety plans in place."
She also spoke about several recent reports of retail, restaurant and hotel staff facing "undeserved aggression" from people who object to B.C.'s mandatory mask rules and refuse to wear face coverings.
"If you are opposed to wearing a mask, shop online, order takeout, stay outside or stay at home," Henry said.
She also said there will be a change in how B.C. reports test positivity rates in weekly updates on the pandemic.
Previously, privately performed tests used on film sets or in other industry settings had been lumped in with tests performed through the Medical Services Plan. Because the private tests are frequently performed on people with no symptoms, the positivity rate was much lower, bringing down the overall rate.
From now on, Henry said, the positivity rates for the two types of tests will be reported separately in the situation reports released every Friday.
This week's report shows that 8.5 per cent of tests performed through MSP across the province were positive, a figure that rose to 11 per cent in the Fraser Health region.
Earlier Friday, the Vancouver Airport (YVR) announced a rapid testing pilot project. It is enlisting volunteer travelers to take COVID-19 rapid tests before departing on their domestic flights. The project is run jointly by UBC and Providence Health Care and sponsored by YVR and WestJet, with the hope of figuring out if airport rapid testing is worthwhile.
A new report by the B.C. Women's Health Foundation Wednesday found that women have been negatively affected by COVID-19 to a disproportionate degree, as they are more likely to work public-facing positions and were forced to take on increased responsibilities as the pandemic deepened.
With files from Roshini Nair