‘We need to stop’: Henry urges people to avoid travelling after B.C. reports 12 new COVID-19 deaths

'We need to stop': Henry urges people to avoid travelling after B.C. reports 12 new COVID-19 deaths

British Columbia health officials reported 834 new cases – including 20 cases on Vancouver Island – and 12 deaths from COVID-19 on Wednesday.

The total number of confirmed cases in B.C. now stands at 34,728 while the death toll climbs to 469.

Of the new cases,  were recorded in 529 Fraser Health, 174 in Vancouver Coastal Health, 20 in Island Health, 66 in Interior Health, and 45 in Northern Health.

There are presently 8,941 active cases in the province, 337 people in hospital – 79 of whom are in intensive care – and 10,201 people under active public health monitoring due to possible exposure to an identified case.

Additionally, a total of 24,424 people have recovered from COVID-19 in B.C.

There are currently 54 active outbreaks in long-term care or assisted living facilities and seven outbreaks at acute care facilities. There are 1,472 active cases within those facilities – 926 residents and 536 staff.

Island Health

Island Health has 264 active cases, an increase of 20 from Dec. 1. There are currently 67 (+7) active cases on southern Vancouver Island, 156 (+9) active cases on central Vancouver Island, and 41 (+2) active cases on northern Vancouver Island.

Over the course of the pandemic, the Island Health region has reported 659 cases. There have been 209 confirmed cases in southern Vancouver Island, 303 cases in central Vancouver Island and 147 in northern Vancouver Island.

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There is ‘light’ is ahead

During Wednesday’s update Dr. Bonnie Henry, the provincial health officer, said news that the United Kingdom has approved the first COVID-19 vaccine outside of China and Russia.

“I know that other nations including Canada will be following, hopefully, sooner rather than later. This of course is very exciting news for all of us,” she said. “This is part of the solution to what we are going through but it is going to be some time yet before we get there.”

Henry also said the United Kingdom’s decision is “clear evidence” that there is “light” at the end of the tunnel.

“We hope and expect that vaccines will be ready in the next few weeks,” she said.

However, despite the good news, Henry said it is obvious that COVID-19 remains “unchecked” in British Columbia.

“This virus continues to move and move quickly between us and it takes lives. Another 12 families have been affected today and we are continuing to see unchecked transmissions despite our efforts of public health teams, our contact tracing and all of us to do our part,” said Henry.

Non-essential travel not recommended right now

The province’s top doctor said COVID-19 is spreading in places where it was considered safe only a few months ago and once again pleaded with British Columbians to stay local and avoid travelling unless it is essential.

“I am asking everybody in B.C. to consider the importance of not travelling right now unless it is essential for work or for more medical care, this includes within B.C. and between provinces,” said Henry.  “It has been a challenge for us. We know that there are many people who want to travel.”

Henry cited an unnamed hockey team in the Interior that travelled to Alberta and became infected with COVID-19, only to return to B.C. and spread it throughout the community.

“There is a hockey team in the Interior that . . . has come back and now there are dozen of people who are infected and it has spread in the community. We need to stop right now to protect our communities and our families and our healthcare workers.”

In response to a question from CHEK News, about whether the province is considering implementing travel checks at BC Ferries terminals given the rise in cases, Henry said that won’t be happening.

“There are many reasons that people need to travel and we know that there are many essential reasons that people are coming and going,” said Henry. “It is very much a challenge for workers at BC Ferries to take on that role and I don’t believe it is their responsibility.”

The province’s top doctor stressed that the responsibility falls on British Columbians to ensure that they are following the rules and not travelling unless it is essential.

“I think it is all of our responsibility to each other.”

Deaths continue to climb in B.C.

The number of people who have died from COVID-19 in British Columbia has soared over the past month and particularly in the past week.

On Nov. 2, the virus has claimed 269 lives in the province. Fast-forward one month and an additional 200 people have since died, despite new restrictions on social gatherings and events.

The past seven days, particularly, have been deadly, with the province reporting 111 deaths, which is 24 per cent of the total number of deaths recorded in B.C. and a 31 per cent increase.

During those seven days, the province reported an unprecedented 46 deaths over a 72-hour period.

Adrian Dix, the province’s health minister, said on Wednesday that the losses over the last week have been “considerable” and affect everybody involved.

“Every person matters, every case matters, everyone with a positive test matters and of course the loss of people who have lost loved ones to COVID-19 matters more than all of that,” he said. “It is profound and it is difficult.”

“This week . . . has been an extraordinarily difficult week for everyone,” he later added.

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Nicholas PescodNicholas Pescod

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