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As fall approaches, B.C. health experts say it's 'back to basics' to reduce spread of COVID-19 –



As cooler fall weather pushes people indoors and active COVID-19 case numbers reach new highs, British Columbians need to limit the spread of the coronavirus by going “back to basics,” say health officials.

“That means going back to our layers of protection,” said Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.

“We need to rethink gatherings, particularly ones that we’re going to have indoors. As the weather changes and we move towards more indoors, we need to keep our visitors to a minimum.”

Dr. Michael Curry, emergency room physician and clinical associate professor at the University of British Columbia, said keeping to that guidance will be crucial once classes return in just over a week.

“There will be some increased transmission when schools open. There’s no getting around that,” Curry told BC Today host Michelle Eliot. 

“There is obviously a balancing act between what we need to do in terms of letting children go to school so the parents have the ability to work or otherwise lead their lives and also to get the kids educated versus protection from the virus.”

It’s important to remember, Curry said, that the much-discussed learning cohorts in schools are not going to be social bubbles. Within the cohorts, students will be expected to keep physical distance and mask if necessary.

It’s close connections of family and friends that need a re-think, he said, especially in less controlled environments like homes or other social settings where safety procedures are relaxed.

Social connections key for health

The challenge in the fall, Curry said, will be maintaining social connections while cutting down on the spread of the coronavirus.

“Connecting with your friends and family that are going through the same thing, I think is priority number one,” he said. “Social connection is one of the biggest determinants of health.”

That might be especially difficult for older people, he said, who need to take the most precautions when it comes to coronavirus.

Ramona Captain, president of the White Rock chapter of the Canadian Association of Retired Persons, said that reality has led to tough choices for many older people who are losing out on time with young grandchildren going back to schools.

“It’s kind of a wait and see. It’s a real conundrum,” Captain said.

Dr. Patricia Daly, chief medical health officer for Vancouver Coastal Health, told On the Coast host Gloria Macarenko that the province needs to keep reopening but in a way that protects people most vulnerable to the virus.

Daly said the number of people someone is in contact with is less important that how that contact occurs and whether safety rules are being followed.

“When we’re seeing transmission, it’s often in places where people have not been following safety plans that we know could help limit spread.”

Spread in young adults, she said, is going to happen. The key, she said, is to make sure the virus doesn’t spread to more vulnerable people.

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VIDEO: BC to launch mouth-rinse COVID-19 test for kids – Terrace Standard – Terrace Standard



A new made-in-B.C. test will soon be available for children and youth to help make COVID-19 testing easier and more comfortable, the province’s top doctor has announced.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry told reporters Thursday (Sept. 18) that B.C. will be one of the first places in the world to implement a new saline gargle test to diagnose the novel coronavirus.

“Unlike the [nasal] swab, this is a new saline gargle where you put a little bit of saline water, that is sterile water, in your mouth, you swish it around and spit it into a little tube,” she explained.

ALSO READ: Health Canada reverses course, will review applications for COVID-19 home tests

“This test is kind of cool and something we’ve had in the works for a while. This new method is more comfortable, particularly for our younger children.”

Henry said the new alternative will soon be made available to health officials across the province, noting the test has some key benefits ahead of influenza season: it is more efficient and can be done without a doctor or nurse involved.

ALSO READ: Easier, quicker saliva sampling eyed for next stage of COVID-19 testing

Currently, the province has been using a nasal swab test – the gold standard for confirming if someone has COVID-19 – which involves putting a six-inch long Q-tip into the cavity between the nose and mouth for 15 seconds and then rotating it several times. A swab is repeated on the other side of the nose.

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For now, the test will be available for those aged four to 18.

The less-intrusive swab comes as B.C. sees an ongoing rise in daily COVID-19 cases. There have been a total 7,663 confirmed cases in B.C. since January.


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COVID-19 update: B.C. health officials to reveal how many cases were recorded over 24 hours – CTV News Vancouver



Health officials have confirmed 165 more cases of COVID-19 in British Columbia in the last 24 hours, marking a new high for a single-day period.

There are now 1,705 active cases of the coronavirus in B.C., provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said in her first live briefing on the pandemic since Monday.

Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix also announced one additional death from the virus, and offered their condolences to the family and caregivers of the deceased.

Fifty-seven people are in hospital with the virus as of Thursday, including 22 who are in intensive care.

Since the pandemic began, there have been 7,663 total cases of COVID-19 in B.C. and 220 deaths, while 5,719 people have recovered.

Henry and Dix also announced two more outbreaks of the coronavirus at hospital acute care units in the Fraser Health region

Fraser Health announced an outbreak at Delta Hospital on Wednesday, saying two patients in a single unit at the facility had tested positive for the virus. The other outbreak announced Thursday is in a rehabilitation unit at Peace Arch Hospital, Henry said.

With B.C.’s active caseload reaching another new all-time high, Henry took aim at social gatherings, which health officials say have been responsible for much of the transmission of the virus in recent weeks.

The provincial health officer reiterated the importance of her order limiting gatherings to a maximum of 50 people, but also stressed that 50 is an upper limit and not inherently safe. Physical distancing must still be maintained during such gatherings, she said.

“It needs to be scaled down based on the space that you are in, and I need everybody to understand that now,” Henry said. “Just because you can fit 50 people into your small back garden does not make it safe.”

She added that she feels sympathy for people who are frustrated by the restrictions still being placed on them to slow the spread of COVID-19, particularly young people. At the same time, however, the consequences of gathering in close proximity with large numbers of people – whether all at once or in several small groups on consecutive nights – are being seen with the continued growth in the number of cases and outbreaks in B.C., Henry said.

“As we’ve seen, many businesses are only able to safely accommodate a few people, and the same applies for our homes, inside and outside, regardless of our location,” she said. “When we’re socializing with others, smaller is always safer.”

While urging people to limit their social gatherings, Henry also noted that health officials have mostly been able to stay on top of transmission events in the province. She said the record number of new cases announced Thursday consisted mostly of cases in which people who were being monitored by public health officials developed symptoms and were tested.

She also attributed the high number of new cases detected, in part, to an increase in the number of tests the province has been conducting. British Columbia tested 7,674 people for COVID-19 on Wednesday, which is the highest number of tests ever conducted in the province in a single day, according to Dix.

A total of 2,949 people in B.C. are under public health monitoring because of their proximity to confirmed cases of COVID-19, Henry said Thursday.

Since the pandemic began, the vast majority of B.C.’s cases have been located in the Lower Mainland. That includes 3,937 documented cases in the Fraser Health region and 2,714 in Vancouver Coastal Health.

Elsewhere in the province, there have been 489 cases in Interior Health, 241 in Northern Health and 196 in Island Health.

Eighty-six people who reside outside Canada are also included in B.C.’s total case count.

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Alberta Health no longer recommending asymptomatic testing – Edmonton Journal



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“I know that this has been a long pandemic. But, we have learned much and today’s change is part of how we are continually updating our approach to incorporate what we learn,” said Hinshaw.

Alberta Health spokesman Tom McMillan said they will be operating on an honour system and Albertans will be asked if they are symptomatic or part of one of the target groups.

“We are confident that Albertans will follow this recommendation, just as they have followed all public health advice,” said McMillan in an email.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, provincial labs have completed 1,169,378 tests, including 13,003 that were completed on Wednesday.

In a letter to the prime minister requesting federal funds, Premier Jason Kenney said federal money would be used in part to increase the province’s testing capacity to a peak of 22,000 test per day up from an average of 12,000 tests per day.

Hinshaw reported 146 new cases on Thursday, bringing the number of active cases in the province to 1,483. There are currently 751 cases in the Edmonton Zone.

Alberta hospitals are treating 41 COVID-19 patients, eight of whom are in intensive care. There were no new reported deaths Thursday.

Hinshaw said there have been 64 infectious cases identified at 48 schools.

Edmonton Public Schools spokeswoman Megan Normandeau said there were single cases linked to John D. Bracco School, Vimy Ridge Academy and Centre High while two cases have been linked to McNally School.

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