Henry says spend time with loved ones but keep gatherings small this holiday season

Canadian Press
The province's top doctor is encouraging people to spend time with their loved ones but on a smaller scale this holiday season.

The province’s top doctor is encouraging people to spend time with their loved ones but on a smaller scale this holiday season.

“You can spend time with your loved ones, and indeed you must,” said B.C. provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, on Tuesday.

Henry made the remarks during a press conference where she announced that B.C. will be receiving an undisclosed amount of the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine and that daily infections appear to be reducing.

“The virus is spreading to fewer people and this can be attributed to the fact that we are reducing the risk across the province by protecting ourselves with immunization,” she said.

However, Henry said B.C. is still in a “precarious situation” as the Delta variant continues to transmit worldwide, adding that the virus is infecting and causing serious illness in younger people much harder than before, resulting in a strain on the healthcare system.

“If we are not continuing to do the things that we know work, we can see cases inching up, outbreaks increasing and hospitalizations increasing. It is especially important for us all to remain vigilant,” she said, later adding. “We can’t afford to have gaps in protection.”

In addition to COVID-19 cases, Henry said four influenza cases were recently identified in B.C., following a year in which there were none. She said that should serve as a reminder that the flu hasn’t gone away either.

“It is a marker that this virus still circulates and can cause illness,” said Henry.

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As a result, B.C.’s top doctor recommended Tuesday that people keep their gatherings small this holiday season and ensure guests are vaccinated against the virus.

“We know that indoors is more risk than outdoors,” she said.

Anyone thinking about holding indoor gatherings should ensure everyone who attends is vaccinated, said Henry.

“This is especially important if you have older relatives or people who are going through cancer treatments or have immune system dysfunction,” she said. “If they are joining you, you need to do more to protect them.”

Those considering holding large gatherings, Henry recommends holding them outdoors in order to reduce the spread of COVID.

“Go sledding or snowshoeing or hiking, we have many many wonderful things we can do outdoors safely, even in the winter months,” said Henry.

For those individuals considering or planning on travelling elsewhere this holiday season, whether it’s a day trip or something longer, Henry urges common sense and respect when in other communities.

“We know how to do this,” she suggested Tuesday. “We have been through this now for the last 20 months, we need to be aware of the impact we are having on the communities we are going to.”

There are some communities across the province, including some on the Island, that are dealing with “very serious outbreaks” of COVID-19, according to Henry, who did not go into details about the outbreaks — an outbreak of the virus has been declared at the Nanaimo Regional General Hospital — but said people should be mindful and examine the COVID-19 situation in the community they plan on visiting before they travel.

“They may not be ready to accept visitors right now, so check before you go,” she said.

British Columbia on Tuesday saw 500 new cases, including 76 in the Island Health region, according to the BCCDC’s dashboard.

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Nicholas PescodNicholas Pescod

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