B.C. provincial health officer calls on younger people to avoid parties

VICTORIA — British Columbia's provincial health officer called on young people to avoid large social gatherings as the province battles a rise in the number of COVID-19 cases.

Dr. Bonnie Henry said reports of large gatherings and people showing up to bars on party buses are "challenging," but emphasized her desire to encourage people to avoid large parties over fines.

"If your friends invite you to a party and it doesn't feel right, don't go. There's no better excuse than a global pandemic to be able to do the right thing," she said during a briefing on Monday.

Henry added that she prefers the "carrot versus the stick" analogy in attempting to get people to follow proper COVID-19 protocols.

The comments come after questions about the behaviour of a large group on a party bus being turned away from a Vancouver bar as well as three Vancouver police officers testing positive for COVID-19 after breaking up a large party.

"We all have a responsibility to not put people in those impossible and dangerous situations. And that's where we need to collectively talk to our friends about what is appropriate behaviour," she said.

Henry acknowledged the potential for fines to be levied at those who break the gathering limit of 50 people.

Gatherings of people, even if it is less than the 50-person limit, remain a concern for health officials, she added, particularly when alcohol is involved, and individuals don't take the precautions they normally would.

Health Minister Adrian Dix said the rise in cases has the potential to undo the work B.C. residents have done in working to limit the spread of COVID-19.

"While some increase was expected, each of us knows our numbers are too high," he said.

B.C. reported 131 new cases of COVID-19 since Friday, bringing the provincial total to 4,065.

There have been no new deaths, while the active case count has increased to 445 people.

Outbreaks at two more long-term care homes were added on Monday.

There are now eight COVID-19 active outbreaks in health facilities across the province, seven in long-term care homes and one in an acute care unit.

The Fraser and Vancouver health authorities also warned on Monday of more public exposures.

Those who attended the Royal Jerk Spot Weekend Summer Fest Day and Night Rave from July 31 to Aug. 2 need to monitor themselves for symptoms.

In Vancouver, there have been public exposures at Pierre's Champagne Lounge, West Oak Restaurant and PumpJack Pub at a variety of times between July 31 and Aug. 7.

There are 1,765 people in self-isolation because they've been a close contact to someone who has tested positive, a figure Dix said was disturbing.

This report was first published by the Canadian Press on Aug. 10, 2020.

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