Seventeen people died from COVID-19 and 1,933 new infections were reported across B.C. over the weekend, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry reported on Monday (Nov. 23).
The number of daily new cases trended downward over that time, with 713 reported between Friday and Saturday, 626 between Sunday and Monday and 594 between Sunday and Monday.
Of those who died, 13 people resided in Fraser Health and four were in Vancouver Coastal Health.
Henry said the majority of the deceased were seniors who lived in long-term care home.
The majority of new cases were in the Lower Mainland. There were 1,304 cases in Fraser Health, 414 cases in Vancouver Coastal Health, 104 cases in Interior Health, 61 cases in Northern Health, 48 cases in Island Health and two cases involving people who reside outside Canada.
In Interior Health, there have been a total of 1,307 cases, with 282 active cases and three people in hospital, none in intensive care.
There are now 13 cases linked to the outbreak at the patient-care tower construction project at Royal Inland Hospital, with cases identified through contact tracing.
Since the pandemic began, B.C. has recorded 27,407 cases of COVID-19, with 19,069 people now considered recovered.
There are 7,360 active cases in B.C., with 277 people in hospital, 59 of whom are in intensive care. There are 10,200 people in the province being monitored for COVID-19 by public health.
There were six new health care outbreaks over the weekend, none of which were located in Interior Health. Two outbreaks in care homes were declared over.
There is now a total of 60 active outbreaks in long-term care with 970 active cases — 605 in residents and 365 in staff.
Asked how the virus is getting into hospitals and care homes despite restrictions, Henry attributed it to people carrying it into those settings while they don’t realize they are ill and infectious.
Commenting on B.C.’s seniors advocate and the BC Care Providers Association calling for rapid testing of staff in long-term care, as has been the case for NHL and the film industry to control the spread, Henry said that testing, as described, is not available.
She added rapid testing won’t solve the issue because the tests have faults and limitations and would require testing everyone every day.
“Yes, they do do it in some sectors for short periods of time, but the yield and the volume of testing that would require is not at the point where it would be helpful for us instead of the regular screening that we are doing every day,” Henry said, noting asymptomatic staff and residents are tested in the event of an outbreak.
As for the new orders enacted last week that will run until Dec. 7, Henry said she feels there will be a good sense by then if progress has being made or if some measures need to be extended.
“But I am confident that if we do do the right thing, we will make a difference,” Henry said. “We’re not trying to get rid of this virus. We’ve come to the realization that it’s not possible to get it back into nature, to have zero cases in our setting, because of the movement of people, because of where we’re situated geographically and because of the climate and conditions we’re in right now.”
She said restrictions won’t completely be lifted until there is a vaccine, but added B.C. residents could look forward to more social interactions by taking steps now to reduce the spread, which will help keep schools open and reduce stress on hospitals.
“For these two weeks, we’re saying stick with your household bubble,” Henry said.