Top doctor says B.C. can control the trajectory of its second wave of COVID-19

VICTORIA — British Columbia has reported 499 cases of COVID-19 as more than 150 cases were detected each day between Friday and Monday.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says B.C. is in the midst of a second wave, but it's still not recording new infections at the same rate as other provinces.

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"One can say that we are in our second wave here of our COVID-19 storm in B.C. But we have control over what that wave looks like," she told a news conference on Monday.

"Encouragingly, we in B.C. are not seeing exponential growth."

Henry reminded people once again to minimize social interactions in order to avoid a steep increase, which she said is still possible.

The number of people in hospital has stabilized in recent weeks, said Henry. It includes 67 people among 1,639 active cases.

Two more people have died since the province's last update, bringing the death toll to 253.

Henry said the province is recording "many small clusters" of the illness, particularly within families, as well as some larger clusters in settings like workplaces.

"We were seeing quite a lot more large spreader events when we had nightclubs open, when there were large parties through the summer, but mostly those have settled down or become smaller and more easy for us to contain," she added.

Four new outbreaks of COVID-19 have been detected in assisted-living or long-term care homes, including The Village in Langley, Rosemary Heights Seniors Village and Zion Park Manor in Surrey, as well as the Royal Arch Masonic Home in Vancouver.

Outbreaks are ongoing at 17 care homes and two acute care facilities, while they have been declared over at Banfield Pavilion and Yaletown House in Vancouver.

Henry said B.C. has purchased as much of this year's high-dosage influenza vaccine as possible. It's aimed at protecting vulnerable seniors, particularly in long-term care homes, but Henry said there are effective and safe vaccines available for older people at pharmacies as well.

There are now 4,028 people under public health surveillance after exposure to a known case and 9,753 people who tested positive have recovered.

B.C. has confirmed 11,687 cases of COVID-19 so far.

Henry noted it will be difficult for the province to address other critical health issues, including the ongoing overdose crisis, if there is a spike in the spread of COVID-19.

There has been a dramatic increase in the toxicity of the street drug supply, she said, and this weekend saw a number of overdoses related to stimulants, such as cocaine, that had been contaminated.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 19, 2020.

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