British Columbia·Video

'We need to do better': B.C. announces 131 new COVID-19 cases over a 3-day period

B.C. has announced 131 new cases of COVID-19 since Friday, with health officials warning that the province must urgently work to re-flatten its upwardly trending curve.

Active cases in the province are triple what they were on July 1

Dr. Lindsay McCaffrey wears PPE to avoid COVID-19 infection at the Burnaby COVID-19 primary care site in April, 2020. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

B.C. has announced 131 new cases of COVID-19 since Friday, with health officials warning that the province must urgently work to re-flatten its upwardly trending curve.

The province has now seen six straight days of more than 35 new cases for the first time in the outbreak. Active cases are at 445, the highest number since May 11 and triple what they were July 1.

"We need to do better collectively to stop these exposures from happening," said Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry as she delivered the new case numbers. But she declined to endorse further measures to enforce regulations, saying "we always start with the carrot and not the stick."

B.C. was previously lauded for its early efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19, but has slipped in recent weeks, with several outbreaks linked to large private gatherings.

Henry said there were 50 new cases recorded from Friday to Saturday, 37 between Saturday and Sunday, and 44 between Sunday and Monday.

There have been no new deaths for the 10th straight day. The total number of cases has now surpassed 4,000 and is at 4,065. 

There have been two new health-care outbreaks, at the George Derby Centre, and the New Vista Care Centre. Both centres are in the Fraser Health region.

Number of people in self-isolation 'disturbing'

Henry said public health teams across the province have been breaking up parties, with fines levied against some people. She said coming together in large groups, often indoors for several hours, is of great concern, and the majority of new cases are among people aged 20 to 39.

"There's no better excuse than a global pandemic [to refuse to go to a party]. These guidance and documents and orders that are in place are for the protection of our community; do not ask people to break these rules," she said.

Health Minister Adrian Dix said it's important to not blame those who have tested positive for the virus, saying people who fall ill "should be the subject of care, not the subject of scorn." But he said he was alarmed by the rapid increase in the number of cases, which could undo actions taken during the spring.

"Our task this summer was to renew B.C. without reactivating the virus. The number of cases is climbing, the number of people in self-isolation is disturbing," he said.

"We need to say "enough" to private parties where alcohol is being used and physical distancing is impossible."

"Our task this summer was to renew B.C. without rebooting the virus," says Adrian Dix who calls the number of people in self-isolation disturbing:

Health Minister Dix says B.C.'s COVID-19 cases are too high

1 year ago
Duration 1:17
Health Minister Adrian Dix says an average of 44 new cases per day risks undoing everything British Columbians have done so far to prevent the transmission of COVID-19. 1:17

There are currently more than 1,700 British Columbians in self-isolation due to exposure to COVID-19.

Since early July, active COVID-19 cases have doubled in the province as restrictions that were lifted in late June have allowed people to resume many activities previously banned. Experts say B.C. is at another critical juncture as it tries to limit the spread of coronavirus in the province, following a week of increasing infections.

And Phase 3 of B.C.'s response plan has some people wondering if infections will be held in check or balloon, which could affect plans to have children return to school in-person this fall.

Nearly 25,000 B.C. parents have signed a petition to make the return to class a voluntary decision for families. Principals have asked the province to allow for a more flexible start date to allow educators to make sure the return to class is safe for students.

During Monday's news conference, Henry acknowledged that the return to in-class learning has been "anxiety-inducing" for some. But she said that COVID-19 will remain an issue in the long run, and that children must be able to return to class.

"What's happening in schools reflects what's happening in our communities. And that's why all of us have to do what we can to make sure our schools stay safe," she said.

Henry said she did not think it was "realistic" for young children to sit in class for hours of instruction while wearing masks, but that they can add an added layer of protection in some scenarios.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Michelle Ghoussoub

Reporter, CBC News

Michelle Ghoussoub is a television, radio and digital reporter with CBC News in Vancouver. Reach her at michelle.ghoussoub@cbc.ca or on Twitter @MichelleGhsoub.

With files from Justin McElroy

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