B.C. health officials report 41 new cases of COVID-19, no new cases in Island Health

B.C. health officials report 41 new cases of COVID-19, no new cases in Island Health
Province of BC
Rob Fleming, Minister of Education, and Dr. Bonnie Henry, Provincial Health Officer, announce enhanced safety measures and additional resources which will enable most students in grades K-12 to return to school on Sept. 8, 2020.

Adrian Dix, B.C.’s Minister of Health, and Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s provincial health officer, say there are 41 new cases of COVID-19 in the province.

None of the new cases are in Island Health, which has had a total of 143 COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began.

The new numbers include a data correction (removing two from Tuesday’s total), Dix and Henry wrote in Wednesday’s written statement. There have now been a total of 3,562 cases in British Columbia. There are 259 active cases of COVID-19 in the province and 3,109 people who tested positive have recovered.

Of the total COVID-19 cases, six individuals are hospitalized (down three from July 28), two of whom are in intensive care.

Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 1,071 cases of COVID-19 in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, 1,846 in the Fraser Health region, 143 in the Island Health region, 356 in the Interior Health region, 86 in the Northern Health region and 60 cases of people who reside outside of Canada (temporary foreign workers and visitors.)

“There have been no new health-care facility outbreaks and the outbreak at St. Paul’s Hospital neonatal instensive care unit has now been declared over.

One long-term care facility and one acute-care facility have active outbreaks.

There are no new community outbreaks but there are now 20 cases on Haida Gwaii and 31 cases connected to the outbreak at Fraser Valley Packers Inc.

Henry and Dix wrote there are no health concerns related to the consumption of fruit from Fraser Valley Packers Inc. However, people are reminded to always wash fruit and vegetables before eating them.

There do continue to be additional community exposure events throughout the province.

An alert has been issued for Liquid Zoo in Kelowna. Anyone who may have been at the night club from July 15 to 18 is asked to monitor themselves closely, limit their contact with others and contact 811 to get tested, if symptoms develop.

A list of public exposures can be found on the BC Centre for Disease Control website, along with the health authority websites.

Henry and Dix once again reminded British Columbians to stay safe this coming long weekend.

“Staying a safe distance from others is the best way to slow the spread of the virus. If you are in a crowded area, outside or inside, and you can’t maintain a safe physical distance, wearing a mask is a further protective layer,” Dix and Henry wrote.

“We also need to remember to wash our hands regularly, clean surfaces more often, follow one-way pathways and always, without exception, stay home if you are at all feeling ill. The actions you take make a difference and will help all of us to stay safe this summer. Let’s bend our curve back down and keep our province strong.”

Earlier Wednesday, the B.C. government released its updated back-to-school plan, which will see most K-12 students return to school full time in September under new guidelines.

Education Minister Rob Fleming said enhanced safety measures and additional resources to prevent the spread of COVID-19 will allow the province to move its education restart plan ahead.

On the advice of the provincial health officer, students will be organized into learning groups to reduce the number of people they come in contact with, cutting the risk of transmitting the novel coronavirus, Fleming said.

The government is putting up $45.6 million to ensure safety measures, including increased cleaning of high-contact surfaces, an increased number of hand-hygiene stations and the availability of masks.

Staff and students, or kids’ parents, will be expected to watch daily for symptoms of COVID-19.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said students being in class is about getting important social and emotional supports as well as education.

“We know that schools can safely reopen if community transmission is low. Even though we’ve had an uptick, we know we can flatten the curve in B.C.” Henry said.

Families will hear from their school district or independent school this summer with updated health and safety guidelines, Fleming said.

“The safety of students and staff is paramount, and government will continue to make science-based decisions, following the expert advice of Dr. Henry and her public health team.”

The minister said he understands families are feeling anxious about the return to school.

Henry said learning groups for elementary and middle-school students are to be no greater than 60 people and secondary school groups will be allowed up to 120.

“Looking to September, school is going to look and feel different,” she said during Wednesday’s press conference.

To see B.C.’s COVID-19 cases by day and health authority, along with testing numbers, visit the B.C. COVID-19 dashboard.

According to researchers with Johns Hopkins University and Medicine, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases worldwide is now more than 16.8 million, with more than 662,000 deaths.

With files from The Canadian Press

Alexa HuffmanAlexa Huffman

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