COVID-19: B.C. health officials announce 148 new cases, two deaths as flu season approaches

There were 148 new cases ofCOVID-19 and two deaths in the 24 hours ending noon on Thursday, the provincial health officer has announced.

As we head into fall and the upcoming Thanksgiving celebrations, Dr. Bonnie Henry urged people to get a flu shot and double down on safety measures. “This is not a time to be complacent. If we let our guard down, this virus will spread. There’s going to be a lot more illness around.”

Henry said the province increased its order for flu shots in February after recognizing an increased demand. “We want to get as many people immunized as possible. I encourage everyone to get their flu shot — we will roll it out in the coming weeks.”

Henry said family and social gatherings for Thanksgiving will be of particular concern.

She said those who gather for the holiday should remember two things: consider the risks of how many people are gathering, what the environment is, but also keep in mind the risks when leaving such events.

“We need to consider the risk we will be bringing with us when we leave,” she said, also urging anyone in sports gatherings to take a step back from social interactions.

“If your teenage son has a girlfriend, have a conversation with her family,” she said. “There are no hard and fast rules, which makes it a challenge for all of us. We need to remember how we learned to work together while staying apart, connecting socially while physically distancing.”

In a touching moment, Henry responded to Global TV reporter Richard Zussman’s question from a 15-year-old who contacted him wanting to ask Henry if she was all right. This after Henry revealed this week that she had to step up home security after death threats and abuse.

“Don’t say things like that. My mother will be upset,” Henry joked.

“There has been much more positive feedback that I’ve been getting on a daily basis — for myself and my team,” she said. “This has been a challenge. When people are anxious and afraid, the reaction is to lash out. These are unprecedented times. I am doing fine.”

Henry reported 61 COVID-19 hospitalizations, with 20 people in intensive care. There are 3,417 people being monitored after being exposed to someone who later tested positive.

B.C. has now had a total of 8,543 cases and 229 deaths to date, while 6,917 people who tested positive have fully recovered.

There has been one new health-care facility outbreak, at Vancouver’s Banfield Pavilion. The outbreak at the Opal by Element assisted-living home has been declared over. In total, nine long-term care or assisted-living homes and five acute-care facilities have active outbreaks.

Later Thursday, Fraser Health confirmed a positive COVID-19 case with a staff member at Peace Portal Seniors Village in Surrey. The health authority said the staff member is self-isolating at home and a response team is at the facility conducting control measures.

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