No new cases of COVID-19 in Island Health, infant tests positive at Vancouver NICU

No new cases of COVID-19 in Island Health, infant tests positive at Vancouver NICU
Province of BC
Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provides an update on COVID-19 on July 16, 2020.

Dr. Bonnie Henry, the provincial health officer, says there are 28 new cases of COVID-19 as of Friday, the same day it was confirmed an infant tested positive for COVID-19 in a neo-natal intensive care unit in B.C.

None of the new cases are in Island Health, which remains at a total of 136 cases since the pandemic began.

There have now been 3,198 COVID-19 cases in B.C., including 1,032 cases in Vancouver Coastal Health, 1,676 in Fraser Health, 235 in Interior Health and 68 in Northern Health. There have also been 52 cases among residents who are not Canadian residents (visitors and temporary foreign workers).

There are no new deaths as of Friday. The death toll remains at 189.

The last time cases were this high was on May 6 when 29 cases were announced.

A total of 2,802 people have recovered. There are 207 active cases with 18 hospitalizations (three more than July 16). Two of those in hospital with COVID-19 are in intensive care.

Two new COVID-19 outbreaks in British Columbia have been confirmed at a hospital neo-natal intensive care unit and at the work site for a massive hydroelectric project.

Vancouver Coastal Health, which administers health-care services for much of Greater Vancouver, issued a notice about the outbreak at the neo-natal intensive care unit (NICU) at St. Paul’s hospital.

Providence Health, which operates the hospital, said in a statement Friday that several patients and their families traced as potential contacts are in isolation and are being monitored by public health.

“We have set up a satellite (unit), completely separate from the existing (intensive care unit), to take care of newly-delivered babies requiring that level of care and support,” it said.

New protocols requiring parents visiting their babies in the unit to wear a mask and sign a visitor log are in place, it added.

Henry said the hospital policy did not require families to wear masks around their baby.

The challenge in this situation was that the babies were in a common room where the bassinets were at least two metres apart but there were no barriers between them, she said.

“That meant that there was potential for people who were in the (unit) to be exposed,” she said.

“So, that’s why we’re watching very carefully and the (neo-natal intensive care unit) has been closed. But I do believe it is a very low risk scenario for others.”

Henry said the maternity unit remains open at St. Paul’s. She said fewer than 10 people were exposed at the NICU. Some babies, families and health-care workers were exposed.

According to Henry, some infants can have more severe illness, but there haven’t been severe illness recorded in this group of infants in B.C. or in Canada overall.

One infant from the NICU has tested positive but is not showing signs of illness.

Meanwhile, BC Hydro said a worker who arrived from Alberta on Monday to the Site C work camp in Fort St. John has tested positive for COVID-19.

The worker was in self-isolation and had not left the camp or had any interaction with the local community, the utility said in a news release issued Friday.

Northern Health has initiated contact tracing and workers are being asked to self-monitor and report any symptoms, it said.

“BC Hydro has been closely monitoring the situation with COVID-19 since January and has implemented extensive measures to protect the health and safety of its workers on the Site C project and reduce the potential for transmission at camp,” the utility said.

Henry confirmed Friday that several other workers are also in isolation as they wait for test results.

“BC Hydro has been following all of the protocols,” she said. “This person had very little contacts [and] they’ve not had contact with any of the of the communities around that area.”

“That says to us that the protocols that we have in place have worked and are being followed carefully.”

BC Hydro has not said whether the worker was exhibiting any symptoms of COVID-19 for the two days they were in camp prior to moving into isolation, and Henry said she did not know, either.

“I do know as soon as the person received information that their test was positive, they reported it,” she said.

Both Alberta Health and the B.C. Centre for Disease Control instruct people with symptoms to self isolate.

Henry said provincial guidelines for industrial sites will now include a question about whether workers are waiting for COVID-19 test results.

There are also four cases connected with the Oliver’ B.C. Krazy Cherry Fruit Company farm. And there are 35 cases connected to the Kelowna exposure around Canada Day. Henry said people should be aware that the number will grow as more people develop symptoms.

There is also potential exposure at the Sandman Suites hotel on Davie Street in Vancouver between July 7 and July 16. 

According to Henry, many of the new COVID-19 cases are people in their 20s and 30s.

She is asking that young people not gather at parties, especially with people they may not know. The severity of illness can be much less in 20s and 30s and people might not recognize they are ill.

Henry says she feels for those people who want to get out and have fun, but it needs to be done in a way that minimizes the risk of community transmission.

“Use your influence to share a message with your friends and connections around the province: and that message is to make sure we don’t let COVID steal our summer,” Henry said.

To see a B.C.’s COVID-19 numbers by day, testing numbers and more, visit the BC COVID-19 dashboard.

According to researchers with Johns Hopkins University and Medicine, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases worldwide is now more than 13.9 million, with more than 593,000 deaths.

With files from The Canadian Press and CBC

Alexa HuffmanAlexa Huffman

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