New restrictions on indoor dining, church services and gyms in B.C.: health officials | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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New restrictions on indoor dining, church services and gyms in B.C.: health officials

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry speaks to the media, Monday, March 29, 2021.
Image Credit: FACEBOOK/Province of B.C.
March 29, 2021 - 1:59 PM

Indoor dining and church services are out and mask-wearing for students in Grade 4 to 12 is in, as case counts continue to blow past previously set records.

"In the last six days we've seen the start of exponential growth in new cases, we've seen more hospitalizations, and more people requiring critical care, and the strain on our acute care systems is ramping up," provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said today, March 29.

"We do not yet have enough people protected with our vaccines to keep our loved ones and our communities safe and a circuit breaker is now required to break the chains of transmission in our province to allow us to safely move forward through this next phase."

Thus far, indoor activities are the issue.

As such Dr. Henry said students from Grade 4 onward will be expected to wear masks now and other previously gained freedoms are rolling back.

For the next three weeks, from midnight tonight through to April 19, Dr. Henry reapplied amendments, including suspending indoor dining at all food and liquor serving premises. These locations may remain open for full meal service on patios or for takeout or delivery only those who only serve snacks or appetizers must close.

Indoor adult group fitness activities of any kind — gyms, fitness centres or studios — are also paused. Activities in these locations are restricted to individual or one on one activities.

Also, Whistler Blackcomb has been closed.

From Friday to Saturday there were 936 new cases of COVID-19 diagnosed in B.C., from Saturday to Sunday there were an additional 805 new cases and in the last 24 hours 774 cases were recorded. That's a total of 2,518 new cases of COVID 19 diagnosed over the weekend, raising the total to 98,165 people in B.C. 

Of those cases, 156 were people in Interior Health.

Additionally, 329 of the cases are variants of concern, which raises the total number up to 2,233 cases.

"Most of these are the  (UK variant) and of course we know that this is a variant that is much more transmissible, and we're getting more and more evidence leads to more serious infections in younger people," Dr. Henry said.

The number of the South African variant remains fairly low at 48, but there's been an increase in the Brazil variant and there are now 270 cases.

"That is also a concern because we know this variant is not only is more transmissible to people but also has been shown in some parts of the world to be less amenable to the vaccine," Dr. Henry said. "So it is important for us to take measures now to stop the transmission of these important variants in our communities as our vaccination program is ramping up. We are concerned that these are driving much of our current transmission."

While the cases are growing, one arm of the vaccination plan has hit a stumbling block and the AstraZeneca is now temporarily on hold. It has previously been used for people who are working in the public.

"Over this past week, a signal was detected in younger people in Europe, using the AstraZeneca vaccine," Dr. Henry said.

"While the instances are rare, this is a very rare condition with tens of millions of doses of this vaccine being used. We are taking the precaution of suspending the use of this vaccine for people who are under age 55 for the next few days."

The risk benefit profile is being examined and Dr. Henry said because there are alternatives for people under the age of 55 in this country the vaccine is going on hold as the assessment carries on and health officials understand what the risk may be.

Of all the new cases, 816 are in the Vancouver Coastal Health area, 1,280 cases are in the Fraser Health Region, 142 people are in Vancouver Island, and 121 In the Northern Health Region. There are also three people who usually reside outside of Canada.

There are now 299 people in hospitals across the province, 79 of whom are in critical care ICU, and six people have died from COVID-19.

Friday's total is a new record. Previously on Nov. 27, 911 cases were recorded.

Before the growing caseload became apparent, Dr. Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix announced the loosening of some restrictions. On March 11, Henry amended the public health order on social gatherings, permitting groups of no more than 10 people to gather outdoors and they announced limited indoor religious services would be allowed this spring.


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