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Crackdowns on risky activities in metro Vancouver likely as second wave deepens

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry
Image Credit: Submitted/Province of B.C.
November 06, 2020 - 6:00 PM

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry is looking at cracking down on people engaging in risky behaviors in the Lower Mainland.

She has tinkered with her recommendations and health orders as B.C. drops into a second wave, including keeping our contacts to household plus six and closing bars and nightclubs. But with new record numbers daily, many are expecting another shoe to drop.

“Right now, (indoor) spin classes in Metro Vancouver are dangerous,” she said during her COVID-19 news briefing yesterday, Nov. 5. “We should not be doing those things.”

There have been incidents where 20 to 30 people have become infected at spin classes in the Lower Mainland, she said.

Those operations have been shut down but more rules may be coming.

“We are in discussion on whether we need to take additional actions for some of the risky things that we’re seeing in Metro Vancouver,” she added.

That’s the first hint that Dr. Henry has given that regional differences may emerge in the orders she hands down to deal with the pandemic that is in its second wave but mostly in the Lower Mainland.

In the last two weeks, there have been 3,781 new cases of COVID-19 in B.C. with 94 per cent of those being in the Fraser Health and Vancouver Coastal health regions that account for 63 per cent of the province’s population.

The number of cases is posted on the B.C. Centre for Disease Control’s website weekly and cover the previous two week period.

Image Credit: Submitted/B.C. Centre for Disease Control

Fraser Health accounted for almost 75 per cent of the new cases but that doesn’t necessarily mean that all those people contracted the disease there. That region has a large proportion of workers who travel back and forth in the province and is home to many truckers who travel to the U.S., Dr. Henry said.

Since cases are recorded based on where someone lives, Fraser Health accounts for lots of cases that were contracted elsewhere.

Last week’s data showed Vancouver Coastal accounted for 18.6 per cent of the province’s new cases. That’s grown to 19.3 per cent. That may seem like a slight change but it means the proportion of new cases in the rest of the province has gone down although the actual number of cases has gone up.

Over the rolling two-week data period, for example, the number of cases in the Interior increased from 124 to 135 while the percentage of the provincial total went down from 4.3 per cent to 3.6 per cent.

Of the 135 new cases, 101 were in the Okanagan, 27 in the Thompson/Cariboo/Shuswap and seven in the Kootenays.

As usual, Vancouver Island has escaped most of the contagion, accounting for only 31 new cases in the last two weeks while there were 67 in the Northern Health region.

Since the pandemic began in January, Fraser Health has accounted for almost 60 per cent of the cases with 9,662 of the 16,201 total cases despite making up only 38 per cent of the province’s population.

Another 31 per cent were in Vancouver Coastal (4,999 cases with 25 per cent of B.C.'s population) since January.

Five per cent of the total cases were in the Interior (821 cases, 16 per cent of the population), 2.7 per cent were in the North (438 cases with 3.8 per cent of the population) and 1.7 per cent on Vancouver Island (281 cases with 17 per cent of the population).

To contact a reporter for this story, email Rob Munro or call 250-808-0143 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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