New health order limits household gatherings after 817 new cases of COVID-19 since Friday | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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New health order limits household gatherings after 817 new cases of COVID-19 since Friday

Dr. Bonnie Henry Oct. 26, 2020.
Image Credit: FACEBOOK/BC Government
October 26, 2020 - 3:42 PM

A record-breaking surge of COVID-19 cases across the province prompted B.C.'s top doctor to strike a more serious tone today and put into place another public health order.

Private homes may not have more people gathered than their immediate household plus six, Dr. Bonnie Henry said today, Oct. 26, after announcing 817 new cases of COVID-19 since Friday.

"This (order) is to remind us that the rules are in place to protect us that we need to be cognizant of having that safe space," Dr. Henry said. "If you come from a large family that's living in a home together, six additional guests may be too many and you need to consider, for the coming months, to focus on your own immediate family and look at how you can have your social connections with others in a safe way."

Enforcement for this order will follow if it seems as though people are not doing what's been asked. She is also stepping up recommendations and advice around wearing masks.

"It is now the expectation that people will wear a non-medical mask in public spaces," Dr. Henry said, adding that it's not an order, but a recommendation.

From Friday to Saturday there were 317 new cases, from Saturday to Sunday an additional 293 and from Sunday to today there were 207, raising the total cases of COVID-19 from the start of the pandemic to 13,371. Of all new cases, there were in 693 Interior Health, an increase of 31 since Friday. The Kelowna francophone school outbreak is now at 11 and the Kelowna FedEx outbreak is over.

The vast majority of new COVID-19 cases are in the Fraser Health region, and it is large gatherings in homes causing the biggest issue.

"Now is the time for all of us to work together, while staying apart to slow the spread of COVID-19, and together we will get through this winter," she said.

"The vast majority of people in B.C., I thank you for doing what you have been doing and sticking with this, even though it is hard. And sometimes we are very weary of these restrictions but thank you for keeping your group small, for staying apart, when you're away from home, for wearing masks and for using your layers of protection because this is what will get us through."

When asked if she should have cracked down sooner, Dr. Henry indicated that the vast majority of people were doing it right. There were a few restrictions put in place but B.C. had flattened its curve prior to Thanksgiving.

Now, however, B.C. is on the verge of something that requires stronger action.

"I made a lot of appeals to people about the need to keep the family gatherings small," she said. "And, unfortunately, there were a number of events that have happened that have led to quite dramatic increases over the past week."

Dr. Henry said that while there have been successes up until this point, it's hard for people to remember every day to think about the risk.

"Like every jurisdiction around us and around the world that we've seen a resurgence of cases, and we're not immune to that here," she said. "In the last two weeks, those that resurgence has really focused in some areas of the province and has become at a level where we're stretching our resources to be able to manage contact tracing. And that's why we're adding the additional layers today."

So far, 4,428 cases are in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, 7,529 are in the Fraser Health region, 250 people in Vancouver Island, 383 people in the Northern Health region, and 88 people who normally reside outside of Canada.

There are 2,325 active cases across British Columbia, of whom 77 are in hospital and 26 are in critical care or ICU.

This past weekend we've had an additional three people who have died from COVID-19 in British Columbia. All three of them were in long term care homes in Vancouver coastal health.

There are also 5,077 people now under active public health monitoring.

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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