The number of people being hospitalized with COVID-19 continued to increase Friday, as the province announced 90 new cases of the disease caused by the novel coronavirus and two more deaths.
In a written statement, Deputy Provincial Health Officer Dr. Réka Gustafson and Health Minister Adrian Dix said there are currently 13 people in hospital, up from 10 the day before, and five in intensive care, an increase of one since Thursday.
Just four days ago, on Aug. 17, B.C. marked the lowest hospitalization count since the provincial state of emergency was declared with four people in hospital, including three in intensive care.
On Thursday, B.C. marked a grim milestone in the fight against COVID-19, as the death toll reached 200. With Friday’s deaths, that total is now at 202.
There are currently 824 active infections of the disease in B.C.In total, 4,915 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in B.C.
Public health is monitoring 2,594 people due to identified exposures to known cases. A total of 3,889 people who tested positive have recovered.
Gustafson and Dix said no new outbreaks have been detected in health-care settings or in the community. Eight long-term care or assisted-living facilities have active outbreaks and one acute-care facility has an outbreak.
Unfortunately, new and active COVID-19 case counts continue to climb to new heights in B.C.
There are also two new healthcare outbreaks, six flights and two Metro Vancouver stores confirmed cases, and 10 schools have reported cases.
Meanwhile, a new and more comfortable means of collecting test samples is being introduced in B.C. for children.
At a news conference in Vancouver, B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced some unfortunate news: B.C. set a new record with 165 new cases today (which includes two epi-linked cases). The previous high was 139 cases on September 10.
The number of active cases continues to ascend. At the moment, there are 1,705 active cases (up 91 cases from yesterday’s 1,614 active cases), which is also a new record.
Hospitalized cases are slightly down to 57 people today in hospital (three less patients than yesterday), with 22 of those patients in intensive care units (one less than yesterday).
Of these patients, B.C. Health Minister Dix said that there are 26 in Vancouver Coastal Health, 23 in Fraser Health, seven in Northern Health, and one in Island Health.
The number of people being monitored by public health also continues to decrease—down from 2,966 people yesterday to 2,949 people today.
Unfortunately, one new death was announced, bringing the total number of fatalities to 220 people who have died from COVID-19-related causes during the pandemic.
A total of 5,719 people have recovered from the virus.
During the pandemic, B.C. has recorded a cumulative total of 7,663 cases, which includes 3,937 cases in Fraser Health, 2,714 cases in Vancouver Coastal Health, 489 in Interior Health, 241 in Northern Health, 196 in Island Health, and 85 people who live outside Canada.
Unfortunately, there are two new healthcare outbreaks. Both are in acute care units in Fraser Health, one at Delta Hospital and the other at Peace Arch Hospital in White Rock.
Fraser Health declared the Delta Hospital outbreak on September 16, stating that two patients tested positive in one unit, which has been temporarily closed to admissions. Enhanced cleaning and contact tracing is underway.
Accordingly, there are 16 active outbreaks in healthcare (11 in longterm care facilities and five in acute care facilities), with a total cumulative number of 802 cases (478 residents and 324 staff) involved in healthcare outbreaks during the pandemic.
Meanwhile, Dix also said that B.C. conducted a record number of tests during the pandemic on September 16: a total of 7,674 tests.
Loblaw has reported two of its stores in the Lower Mainland have staff who have tested positive.
An employee who tested positive last worked at the Westgate Centre location of Shoppers Drug Mart (20395 Lougheed Higway) in Maple Ridge on September 3.
Meanwhile, a staff member at the Real Canadian Superstore (7559 King George Highway) in Surrey, who tested positive, last worked there on September 11.
The B.C. Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) has added two international and four domestic flights confirmed with COVID-19:
September 11: Aeromexico 696, from Mexico City to Vancouver;
September 11: Lufthansa 492, from Frankfurt to Vancouver;
September 11: Air Canada 8328, from Vancouver to Winnipeg;
September 11: WestJet 133, from Calgary to Vancouver;
September 12: WestJet 711, Toronto to Vancouver;
September 13: WestJet 711, Toronto to Vancouver.
For affected row information, visit the BCCDC webpage for public exposures.
Anyone at these locations or on these flights should monitor themselves for 14 days after the date of visit or flight date. If you develop symptoms, immediately self-isolate and contact 811 for testing information.
As announced yesterday, provincial health authorities have begun reporting potential exposure incidents at schools.
Fraser Health reported eight exposure events in schools.
One was at an exposure incident at Delta Secondary on September 11.
Two were at private schools: Khalsa School (elementary school at Old Yale Road location) on September 1 and 4, and Khalsa Secondary School in Surrey on September 9 and 10.
Five incidents were at public schools in Surrey:
Johnson Height Secondary from September 8 to 11;
Panorama Ridge Secondary on September 8;
Sullivan Heights Secondary on September 8;
William Watson Elementary on September 10;
Princess Margaret Secondary on September 11.
Interior Health listed Stanley Humphries Secondary School in Castlegar had one student on September 11 who has tested positive.
Northern Health listed École Frank Ross Elementary in Dawson Creek with an exposure event from September 10 to 11.
There weren’t any exposure incidents at schools reported in Island Health or Vancouver Coastal Health.
A new made-in-B.C. method of collecting samples for testing—one of the first of its kind in the world—is being introduced for testing school-aged children.
As an alternative to collecting samples from the nose with swabs, children and youth swish and gargle sterile salt water before spitting it into a tube, or by using a swab to collect a sample from their nose.
The nose swab is used for younger children or those who are unable to follow the swish, gargle, and spit instructions.
The BCCDC adds that children can practice at home how to swish, gargle, and spit.
Henry said that this new method will be more efficient because it doesn’t take as long to do as the nasal swab test.
However, due to limited supplies, she said they are focussing on children because “we know right now it’s going to be very critical for children if they start showing symptoms of COVID-19 and they’re in a school setting, many of them will need to get tested so it’s a way to try and facilitate that and make that easier right now.”
She said that this collection method needs to be done at a health centre assessment centre. In addition, she explained that the test itself remains the same but this is a different means of collecting samples.
The Renfrew County District Health Unit has confirmed a fourth staff member from Fellowes High School has tested positive for COVID-19.
RCDHU had deemed this person a probable case which factored into the decision to close the school on Sept. 16. This individual did not have any further exposures beyond the classes that have already been identified for testing and the staff member who became symptomatic last week has not been at school this week, according to a release issued Thursday evening.
The good news is that RCDHU has received negative test results for some staff and for all but two of the students in the original class that was exposed to the staff cases; these two tests have yet to be reported.
This afternoon RCDHU tested 98 individuals, 83 staff and 15 students. Almost all the staff from the school was tested along with most of the students considered to be at highest risk. There will be further testing tomorrow, for the remaining staff and students that could not attend today.
RCDHU will continue to update the school community and the public daily. In the meantime, RCDHU asks everyone to rigorously observe public health precautions as follows:
Limit your social activities and keep your bubble small.
Practice physical distancing (maintaining 2 metre distance).
Wear a mask when physical distancing cannot be maintained.
Clean your hands frequently with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub.
Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, then clean your hands.
If you don’t have a tissue, sneeze or cough into your sleeve and then clean your hands.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth, unless you have just cleaned your hands. • If you are ill, stay home.
Avoid contact with people who are sick.
Get your flu shot.
Use the COVID Alert App.
For all other information, visit RCDHU’s website at https://www.rcdhu.com/novelcoronavirus-covid-19-2/ or call 613-735-8654. For COVID-19 testing dates and times visit the Renfrew County Virtual Triage Assessment Centre (RCVTAC) website at www.rcvtac.ca for the testing schedule or call RCVTAC at 1- 844-727-6404 to book an appointment for testing.
VICTORIA — British Columbia is introducing a new saline gargle test for students from kindergarten to Grade 12 to help make COVID-19 testing easier for children and teenagers.
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said B.C. is one of the first places in the world to use a mouth rinse gargle test for the new 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 said at a news conference Thursday.
“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.”
It is developed by a B.C. company, which reduces the province’s dependency on the global supply chain, she said.
Henry described the test as more efficient, which shortens the long lineups and wait times.
Getting tested is key in the fight against the pandemic and the test will make it easier to collect samples from young people, she said.
The test can be done without a health professional by parents or children themselves.
With schools reopening, Henry said the focus of this new and “easier” method of testing will be on children until there are more supplies.
“And we’re hoping to make it more broadly available as we go forward.”
The province announced a record daily high of 165 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday and one additional death, bringing the death toll to 220.
There has been a total of 7,663 cases of COVID-19 in the province.
The uptick is caused by a combination of increased testing, awareness and contact tracing, Henry said.
“Remember that today’s cases are people who have been exposed over the last two weeks.”
The province tested 7,674 people for COVID-19 on Wednesday, the highest number of COVID-19 tests ever conducted in B.C. in a single day.
Health Minister Adrian Dix reminded people to keep groups small and limit social gatherings.
“So, this weekend, and as we plan for Thanksgiving in the fall months ahead, let us once again close ranks on COVID-19, and change its course,” he said.
— By Hina Alam in Vancouver.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 17, 2020.
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