Six more COVID-19 deaths in B.C.; 31 new cases - InfoNews

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Six more COVID-19 deaths in B.C.; 31 new cases

Dr. Bonnie Henry July 6, 2020.
Image Credit: FACEBOOK/BC Government
July 06, 2020 - 4:07 PM

The COVID-19 death toll in B.C. has risen by six since July 3 and the number of cases has grown by 31.

In total, this province has now seen 2,970 people infected by COVID-19, 203 of which are in the Interior Health region, 1,008 people in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, 1,570 people in Fraser Health, 132 people within Vancouver Island Health region and 65 people in the Northern Health region.

Of these cases, only 166 remain active, while 16 people are in hospital, four of whom are in critical care ICU.

This weekend's uptick in cases is coinciding with B.C.  entering the third week of its Phase 3 economic restart, and Dr. Henry acknowledged many are seeing more people out on the streets, enjoying the weather.

"Importantly, we are following the rules that we have established for those safe, social interactions," Dr. Henry said. "The rules are our foundation to be able to keep our economy going, to keep our social interactions and keep our businesses going."

These "new normal" rules, like small gatherings, masks in enclosed spaces and fastidious handwashing, are very doable, though they may not be the norm among those who visit from other provinces. So, travellers need to be mindful.

And, while B.C. will likely see visitors from other parts of Canada, Dr. Henry said that tourists from across the U.S. border won't likely be welcome in the near future. Nor will Canadians be allowed to travel freely to the U.S., given the surging case numbers throughout much of the United States, including in several states that were among the first to reopen.

Dr. Henry said what's happening across the border is actually "very much a worry."

"We know there's quite a bit of travel across the border but nothing like what we usually see," she said.

"I cannot see vacation travel, this summer, from the US, given the rates that we're seeing and how widespread (COVID-19) is in the US right now."

Infection rates there, she said, illustrate how the virus can spread rapidly in communities if none of the safety precautions are in place.

"If we're not taking those measures that many states took early on and you open up too much too soon, and people aren't doing the things that we seem to be doing here very well in Canada and here in B.C., ... then you can get widespread transmission," she said, noting that it's overwhelming hospitals and ICUs.

"If you have lots of people sick, then the probability of having young people get very sick and die goes up dramatically and we've seen that with some very young people who died recently," she said. "So, it is a worry."

Acknowledging that she has no control over the border, with it being a federal decision, Dr. Henry said further loosening of the restrictions needs to be accompanied by ensuring that people know the restrictions that they need to follow once they are in Canada, including self-isolation for the COVID-19 incubation period.

While Dr. Henry expressed concern about the spread of COVID-19 with travel increasing, she wasn't alarmed by a recent paper that made headlines across the globe today.

In a letter published this week in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases, two scientists from Australia and the U.S. wrote that studies have shown “beyond any reasonable doubt that viruses are released during exhalation, talking and coughing in micro-droplets small enough to remain aloft in the air.”

That means people in certain indoor conditions could be at greater risk of being infected than was previously thought. The WHO has maintained that COVID-19 is spread via larger respiratory droplets, most often when people cough or sneeze, that fall to the ground.

Dr. Henry indicated that it doesn't make much difference to how British Columbians have been functioning since the pandemic took hold of the globe.

"We know that the amount of virus and the moisture the virus needs to stay alive is a bit more for some of these viruses like influenza and COVID-19, so you're more likely to breathe it in, so  it's transmitted through the air — I think we're all on the same page about that," she said. "And the fact that it's not transmitted long distances in the air column, we're all on the same page about that."

Where the WHO is being challenged is in the area of how much of it is due to the small aerosols that are transmitted when people are in close contact or the larger droplets that tend to fall out more readily. Also, how much of it does a person breathe deep into their lungs and how much of it is deposited in the upper airways.

What needs to be done to protect one another from COVID-19 is what's already being done. 

"We've said this over and over again, that when you're in close contact with somebody within two meters or within one meter, particularly, if you're indoors, where there's poor ventilation, and you're coughing or sneezing or singing or hugging or dancing, those are the situations where you're much more likely to transmit this virus," she said. "And it is, regardless of what size particle that you're breathing in at that point. Those are the situations that we know are most risky and that's why the measures that we have in place focus on reducing those, making sure that we have space between us and making sure that we have increased ventilation."

By doing that, B.C. has managed to control outbreaks.

"We stopped the transmission of this virus," she said. "So that tells me that these measures that we have in place work."

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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