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B.C.'s circuit breaker health orders working, top doc says

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provides an update on COVID-19, Sept. 17, 2020, as health minister Adrian Dix looks on in the background.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED / Province of B.C.
April 26, 2021 - 5:02 PM

B.C.'s top doctor said circuit breaker health orders have gone some distance to knock down surging cases of COVID-19 but given the heightened transmissibility of variants, people need to remain vigilant.

"We've seen some impact of the measures that were put in place and that's important," B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said today, April 26, after announcing 2,491 new cases diagnosed over the weekend. Of these cases, 206 were within the Interior Health region.

There are also currently 8,199 active COVID-19 cases in the province, 484 people in hospital, with 158 of whom in critical care or ICU. Seventeen more people died since Friday.

"But I need to remind people that the indoor settings, when you have people over, even with the best of intentions, those are risky settings right now," Dr. Henry said.

When the virus is introduced into a household, health officials are finding that nobody is spared.

"Before, if somebody got sick from a contact they had at work, and came home to their family there might have been one or two other people in the family that caught it," Dr. Henry said.

"But now we're seeing everybody get it. So, that is why it is so important for everybody to pay attention right now."

Consulting with her colleagues who work in B.C.'s ICUs, Dr. Henry has learned that there are whole families who are admitted to hospital, in some cases leaving an aunt to take care of the children because the parents are both in hospital.

"We've had tragic cases where a husband and wife are in the ICU together," she said.

"That is what we need to stop right now and that's why it's so important to review those safety plans in the workplace — so that you're not giving opportunities for the virus to transmit and to step back from those social interactions particularly indoors."

Dr. Henry said that in addition to lower case numbers, there have been fewer contacts among people who have been infected.

"Increasingly, people have decreased the number of social contacts they've had," she said, adding transmission is still primarily related to social connections in people's homes, where they have groups 

While this change may mark some improvement with the battle against the disease, B.C. businesses reliant on public gatherings are still struggling to keep their heads above water.

To that end, the government announced today it was adding $75 million to the Circuit Breaker Business Relief Grant, bringing available funds to more than $125 million.

Grants can now be received by the owners of more than 5,300 hotels, motels, and short-term accommodations affected by the ban on travel between three regions of B.C.

That makes for more than 20,000 businesses - including restaurants, bars, breweries, and gyms impacted by the first phase of the Circuit Breaker closure orders earlier this month - that can now get financial help from the provincial government.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Kathy Michaels or call 250-718-0428 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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