Regional restrictions are coming to B.C. as new cases soar province-wide.
Dr. Bonnie Henry, the provincial health officer and Adrian Dix, announced 567 new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday, including three new cases on Vancouver Island. They also said one person had died from the virus, bringing the death toll to 276.
Of the 567 new cases, 122 of them are in Vancouver Coastal Health, 411 are in Fraser Health, three are in Island Health, 22 are in Interior Health and nine are in Northern Health.
A total of 100 people are currently in hospital due to the coronavirus, 31 of whom are in ICU.
The total number of COVID-19 cases reported in B.C. now stands at 17,716.
Health officials also announced a series of restrictions for the Vancouver Coastal Health and Fraser Health regions, which include no social gatherings other than those in an immediate household and a total ban on indoor physical activity.
The bans will begin at 10 p.m. Saturday and will remain in place until Nov. 23. Exceptions to the new orders include the central coast and Bella Coola Valley.
Furthermore, travel to and from the Vancouver Coastal Health and Fraser Health regions is to be avoided unless it is essential.
Party buses have also been banned indefinitely.
Although officials announced a range of orders, mandatory masks in public spaces were not among them.
During Saturday’s update, Henry explained that over the last two weeks there has been a dangerous and rapid rise of new cases, particularly in the Vancouver Coastal Health and Fraser Health regions.
“We need to keep to our essential services and essential activities from schools to workplaces, open and operating safely and right now this is in jeopardy,” she said. “As a result, we will be taking further actions and we must now step back from our restart activities. We need to take urgent and focused actions here in the Vancouver Coastal and Fraser health regions.”
The new orders will give B.C. a chance to slow the rate of transmission throughout the province, said Henry.
“Provincial health orders are always a last resort, but right now these additional measures are needed,” she said.
Dix expressed concerns about the strain on the healthcare system as hospitalizations continue to climb. He said the restrictions are needed to avoid further pain down the road.
“We need to take urgent and focused action now to significantly bring down the rate of infection across our two health authorities, not doing so will have serious consequences for all of us,” he said.
Over the past five days, B.C. has reported nearly 2,500 new cases of COVID-19.