B.C. saw 119 new cases of COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, bringing the number of active cases in the province to 1,406, provincial health officer Bonnie Henry said in a statement.
The latest numbers bring the total number of COVID cases in B.C. since the pandemic began to 10,185, with 8,502 people who contracted the disease having recovered.
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In addition to the active cases, 3,180 people continue to be under active public health monitoring due to identified exposure to the coronavirus, the statement said. Currently, there are 68 people hospitalized – with 19 in intensive care.
That number of patients hospitalized with COVID represents a slight relief from the situation one day earlier, when 76 people were announced to be receiving care at hospitals on Thursday – the highest such number since May 5.
Thursday also marked the day when COVID cases in the province officially crossed the 10,000-case barrier.
There has been no new COVID-related deaths in the province in the last 24 hours, Henry added, but did note that a new health-care facility outbreak (at Delta’s Good Samaritan Delta View Care Centre) now brings the total number of such active outbreaks in B.C. to 15.
Henry also noted that – given this weekend being Thanksgiving – people are reminded to maintain social-distancing and other health measures to minimize the impact of COVID as the province goes through a second wave of the pandemic.
“Let’s do all we can to protect ourselves and our loved ones from COVID-19 by ensuring we always use our layers of protection this long weekend,” Henry said in the statement. “The care we show each other today will help protect all of us tomorrow, so let’s make this Thanksgiving about safe connections and safe celebrations.”
So far, 245 people in B.C. have died from COVID-19 since the pandemic started. The Fraser Health region continues to have the highest number of cases (5,253, up 79 from Thursday), followed by Vancouver Coastal Health (3,728, up 35), Interior Health (559, up two), Northern Health (331, up one) and Island Health (225, up two). Another 89 cases were found with people who live outside Canada, officials said.
The current list of B.C. assisted living or long-term seniors care homes with active COVID-19 outbreaks are:
* Banfield Pavilion long-term care facility, Vancouver
* Haro Park Centre long-term care facility (second occurrence), Vancouver
* Point Grey Private Hospital long-term care facility, Vancouver
* Chartwell Crescent Gardens long-term care facility, Surrey
* Cherington Place long-term care facility, Surrey
* Evergreen Hamlets long-term care facility, Surrey
* George Derby Centre long-term care facility, Burnaby
* Good Samaritan Delta View Care Centre long-term care facility, Delta
* Harrison West at Elim Village long-term care facility, Surrey
* Kin Village assisted-living facility, Delta
* Langley Lodge long-term care facility (third occurrence), Langley
* New Vista Care Home long-term care facility, Burnaby
* Thornebridge Gardens assisted-living facility, New Westminster
* Peace Portal Seniors Village long-term care facility, Surrey
* White Rock Seniors Village long-term care facility, White Rock
As the COVID-19 pandemic grinds on, public health officials continue to urge residents to be cautious about the risk of viral spread, especially in relaxed settings with friends or family.
While regulations are in place governing mask use in public spaces and gathering spots like bars and restaurants are closed, Ottawa’s top doctor says there is still a risk outside of those places.
“Watch your blind spots,” said Dr. Vera Etches at a press conference on Tuesday. “Data collected during our case management process is indicating that we also have significant blind spots in situations that are not covered by provincial or municipal regulations, like crowd gathering limits or the mandatory mask by-law.”
Some of the so-called “blind spots” includes gathering with extended family or larger friend circles and thinking the risk of transmission isn’t there. Carpools without masks and social gatherings before and after sports were other examples.
Dr. Etches did not have any immediate data to compare the rate of transmission in these “blind spots” versus other kinds of high-risk activities or places, but stressed that close contact is the main driver of spread.
“Transmission of COVID-19 will occur in any setting if given the opportunity and the risk is there whenever people are less than two metres from each other and not wearing masks,” she said.
One particular source of transmission stands out: lunch.
“Employees having lunch together seems to be something that comes up over and over again as a source of outbreak,” Dr. Etches said. “It’s this idea that when we’re with our colleagues or our friends, we relax and it’s okay and think the risk isn’t there and that’s just not true. It is what gives the virus the opportunity to spread.”
In these cases, it’s recommended colleagues sit at least two metres apart during shared lunch breaks and wear masks when socializing.
While the message Tuesday was about individual actions, Dr. Etches also acknowledged the stress many people have been under during the pandemic.
“This is no one’s fault. This is a virus that is often present when people don’t know it. People have no symptoms or very mild symptoms they might not realize are COVID-19,” she said. “That’s why we need the distance between each other and we need to wear masks. The lunch is particularly challenging because we need to take off our masks to eat but even if you’re with your colleagues, that’s a risk.”
Daily case counts in Ottawa have been decreasing compared to earlier in the month, when there were several days of triple-digit increases. Dr. Etches says it shows people are largely doing the right thing to limit spread of the virus.
“I want to say congratulations to the people of Ottawa. There is some encouraging indication that we’re having some success in decreasing COVID in our community,” Dr. Etches said. “The rapid rise in people testing positive has changed. I want to encourage people to do what has been making a difference, that is, limiting our contacts with people outside our household.”
Eating the same go-to meals week after week is easy and convenient. It saves time on meal planning and it makes calorie tracking a breeze.
Sticking to a limited menu can get boring, though, which can prompt you to seek out extra snacks and treats. Worse, it can undermine your nutrient intake, and possibly your health.
The good news: adding new foods to your meal plan can combat menu fatigue and provide vitamins, minerals and protective phytochemicals your diet might be missing.
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Why variety matters
A varied diet, long considered a key component of healthy eating, means eating foods across all food groups. It also means diversifying your choices within food groups.
Researchers define a diverse diet as one that includes at least five food groups including fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy and proteins.
Studies have tied greater dietary diversity to a lower risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, asthma, depression and anxiety. It may also have cognitive benefits for older adults.
Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables has been found to be especially important maintaining heart health.
A varied diet is good for your gut, too. Including a mix of foods that contain probiotic bacteria, fermentable fibres and polyphenols helps maintain a diverse community of beneficial gut microbes.
If you eat similar meals day in and day out, consider the following suggestions to infuse more variety – and nutrients – in your diet, food group by food group.
Try cruciferous vegetables (for example, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, bok choy), which offer phytochemicals with anti-cancer properties. Enjoy them cooked or raw added to salads.
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Include bright-orange vegetables, packed with beta-carotene, in your regular diet (such as carrots, sweet potato, pumpkin, butternut squash). Beta-carotene supports a healthy immune system and is thought to protect against cardiovascular disease.
Add interest to meals by varying how you prepare vegetables. Sauté chopped Swiss chard, spinach or kale, for example, with garlic and chili flakes. Or, roast carrots and parsnips with a spice blend such as curry powder, harissa or ras el hanout (my favourite).
Berries are an exceptional source of brain-friendly flavonoids called anthocyanins.
Enjoy fruit that’s in season as well. Apples and pears are good sources of pectin, a prebiotic fibre that helps fuel the growth of good gut bacteria.
In the winter months, reach for citrus fruit to increase your intake of vitamin C and flavanones, a type of flavonoid shown to protect brain cells, strengthen blood vessels and reduce inflammation.
Expand your grain menu beyond bread. Add raw large-flake oats to smoothies or soak them overnight for an easy breakfast. Cook a batch of farro or freekeh, nutrient-rich whole grains high in fibre and protein, to add to grain bowls, green salads, roasted vegetables, chili and soups.
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Switch up oatmeal by making porridge with other grains such as quinoa, millet, teff or amaranth.
Think beyond chicken, salmon and lean meat, as nutritious as they are. You’ll also get muscle-building protein from beans and lentils, along with lots of folate and fibre, which animal proteins lack.
Add a variety of beans to your next chili. Make hummus from chickpeas, white beans or black beans.
If your usual snack is a handful of almonds, vary it up to get different nutrient profiles. Try walnuts for omega-3s, pistachios for extra vitamin B6 or pumpkin seeds for extra magnesium.
To increase calcium, include protein from dairy or dairy alternatives such as pea milk or soy milk. There’s no reason why Greek yogurt can’t sub in for turkey at lunch.
Try kefir, a fermented milk beverage, which delivers protein, vitamins and minerals, and probiotic bacteria. Use it for overnight oats and smoothies or over granola.
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Leslie Beck, a Toronto-based private practice dietitian, is Director of Food and Nutrition at Medcan.
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