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Contact tracing resources stretched to the limit: Dr. Henry – PrinceGeorgeMatters.com

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British Columbia’s top doctor says contact tracers are “stretched to the max” and falling behind as they try to keep up with the province’s growing COVID-19 infection rate.

The latest modelling data from provincial health officer Bonnie Henry came as B.C. surpassed 20,000 cases with four more deaths and 1,130 new cases detected over two days.

Henry said 808 of those cases are in the Fraser Health region and 249 are in Vancouver Coastal Health region, where the primary source of transmission remains social and community interactions.

One infection can cause a cascade of trouble, she said, using the example of a small wedding where 15 people became positive. Ten of those people had additional household cases and one person spread the illness to a long-term care home where three people were hospitalized and one died. 

The virus spreads more easily in cooler weather, said Henry, particularly when people are inside, which is why it’s so important for people to reduce their contacts and step up their safety measures now.

“There are things that we could get away with in the summer, probably because of the seasonality of the virus. We’re learning that it doesn’t spread as well when temperatures are warmer.”

Henry pointed out that the number of cases per day has doubled every 13 days in the past few weeks, making it harder for contact tracers to keep up and break the chains of transmission.

There have been very few transmission events in schools or daycares, said Henry, and kids under 10 are under-represented among new cases even though testing has increased in that age group.

Despite more than 260 school exposures, there have been fewer than a dozen instances of transmission in a school setting, she said. There has been one outbreak at a school in the Interior Health region.

Nine in 10 schools in B.C. have not had an exposure event, Henry added.

The median age of cases has come down since the start of the pandemic, hovering around the low to mid 30s, she said, but the illness has recently been spilling into older age groups and long-term care homes. 

Henry also shared the results of the province’s latest serology testing that estimates how many people in B.C. have antibodies indicating they have contracted the illness. The prevalence was still around one per cent in September, but B.C. has since entered a new phase of the outbreak, she said.

The so-called reproductive number that indicates how many people on average a person sick with COVID-19 transmits the illness to is now above one, said Henry.

“When you’re above one, that gives the potential for it to spread quite rapidly.”

Henry noted that B.C. had bent its reproductive number down prior to the Thanksgiving weekend.

B.C. has now recorded 20,368 cases since the start of the pandemic, including 5,793 infections that are active. There are nearly 11,100 people being monitored after exposure to a known case and 14,089 people who tested positive have recovered.

A public health order restricting social interactions and other activities is in place in the Vancouver Coastal and Fraser Health regions until Nov. 23, though Henry has said it could be extended.

“We are in a challenging time. Perhaps the most challenging time of this pandemic,” she said, while pointing to positive news about vaccines that could become available early next year.

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Some Northern COVID-19 patients transferred to Island Health – My PG Now

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Northern Health is experiencing an increase in COVID-19 activity and hospitalizations.

As part of the provincial response, some patients have been transferred to other locations, the health authority explained.

Recently, two patients have been transferred from Northern Health to Island Health facilities, however, more detailed information on where those patients were originally from is not available.

Provincial transfer protocols are in place to support patients, and those protocols include strict COVID-19 health and safety measures.

“We can’t predict precisely what referral or transfer patterns may look like – especially for individual patients or locations; those decisions would be based on the care needs of a patient, and available hospital (inpatient and staffing) capacity in any given area at the time,” said spokesperson Eryn Collins in a statement.

Collins says not all patients in critical care units are COVID patients, either.

Across Northern Health there are 41 critical care beds, with an additional 23 ‘surge’ beds should the need arise, for a total of 64.

Currently, 24 of the 64 beds in the region are occupied.

There are also approximately 100 ventilators available, including transport ventilators.

However, Collins explains ventilator numbers fluctuate.

“All NH sites have transport ventilators; there is also a provincial supply of ventilators that can be deployed to areas of need. Finally, each of our hospitals has a pandemic plan, which includes identifying where patients would be cared for based on their care needs,” Collins added.

Breakdown by COVID-19 site as of November 30:

Northern Health (regionally): 41 base beds – 24 occupied, 17 unoccupied, 23 surge beds 23 unoccupied

Fort St. John Hospital: (5 ventilators, +4 transport) One of the four beds is occupied.

Mills Memorial Hospital, Terrace: (5 ventilators, +2 transport) Three of the nine beds are occupied.

University Hospital of Northern BC, Prince George: (20 ventilators, +4 transport) 15 of the 39 beds are occupied.

Other NH acute care facilities: (3 ventilators, +10 transport) Five of the 12 beds are occupied

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Hockey team brought COVID-19 back from Alberta, BC doctor says – Keremeos Review

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Sports teams have continued to travel into or out of B.C. and COVID-19 infections have spread as a result, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says.

“We know there are many people who want to travel, who are coming here from other provinces for recreation and sport, and we know that there are sports teams in B.C. that have travelled to other provinces despite the restrictions that we’ve put in place,” Henry said at a pandemic briefing Dec. 2.

“For example, there’s a hockey team in the Interior that travelled to Alberta and has come back, and now there are dozens of people who are affected and it has spread in the community. We need to stop, right now, to protect our communities and our families and our health care workers.”

B.C.’s current advisory against all non-essential travel in or out of B.C. is set to expire on Monday, Dec. 7, and Premier John Horgan says Henry and the B.C. Centre for Disease Control team will determine by then if that will be extended. Wednesday’s result of 834 new cases and 12 additional deaths is a jump from earlier this week and suggests restrictions on travel and gatherings will likely continue.

RELATED: B.C. prepares immunization plan as vaccines approved

RELATED: B.C. tourism assistance coming soon, Horgan says

Henry noted that B.C.’s travel advisory is not an order and the province can’t effectively sort out what is non-essential travel.

“I cannot stop you by an order from getting into your car or going onto a plane,” she said. “But I’m asking in the strongest of terms for us to stay put.”

With the holiday season approaching, a visiting relative is not considered non-essential travel.

“Making an exception for yourself, your team or your recreational needs puts a crack in our wall, and we see that this virus can exploit that very easily at this time of year,” Henry said. “I do say, though, if you have a family member who is returning home for the holidays, then that is important and that is fine. But it is critical that when they come here, they need follow all of our orders and guidelines that we have in place. That means no socializing, no going outside the home and having parties and gatherings of any kind right now.”


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tfletcher@blackpress.ca

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Hockey team brought COVID-19 back from Alberta, BC doctor says – Revelstoke Review

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Sports teams have continued to travel into or out of B.C. and COVID-19 infections have spread as a result, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says.

“We know there are many people who want to travel, who are coming here from other provinces for recreation and sport, and we know that there are sports teams in B.C. that have travelled to other provinces despite the restrictions that we’ve put in place,” Henry said at a pandemic briefing Dec. 2.

“For example, there’s a hockey team in the Interior that travelled to Alberta and has come back, and now there are dozens of people who are affected and it has spread in the community. We need to stop, right now, to protect our communities and our families and our health care workers.”

B.C.’s current advisory against all non-essential travel in or out of B.C. is set to expire on Monday, Dec. 7, and Premier John Horgan says Henry and the B.C. Centre for Disease Control team will determine by then if that will be extended. Wednesday’s result of 834 new cases and 12 additional deaths is a jump from earlier this week and suggests restrictions on travel and gatherings will likely continue.

RELATED: B.C. prepares immunization plan as vaccines approved

RELATED: B.C. tourism assistance coming soon, Horgan says

Henry noted that B.C.’s travel advisory is not an order and the province can’t effectively sort out what is non-essential travel.

“I cannot stop you by an order from getting into your car or going onto a plane,” she said. “But I’m asking in the strongest of terms for us to stay put.”

With the holiday season approaching, a visiting relative is not considered non-essential travel.

“Making an exception for yourself, your team or your recreational needs puts a crack in our wall, and we see that this virus can exploit that very easily at this time of year,” Henry said. “I do say, though, if you have a family member who is returning home for the holidays, then that is important and that is fine. But it is critical that when they come here, they need follow all of our orders and guidelines that we have in place. That means no socializing, no going outside the home and having parties and gatherings of any kind right now.”


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislatureCoronavirus

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