COVID-19: Dire warning from Dix as B.C. reports record caseload

Health Minister Adrian Dix warned British Columbians on Monday that COVID-19 would be around for “months and months and months and months and months,” as the daily caseload record was smashed two days in a row.

Earlier, deputy provincial health officer Dr. Réka Gustafson reported 1,120 new cases of COVID-19 over the previous three days, and six deaths. Of those cases, 47 were children aged under 10.

There were 352 cases reported between noon Friday and noon Saturday, 389 between noon Saturday and noon Sunday, and 379 between noon Sunday and noon Monday. The previous one-day record was 317 reported on Oct. 24.

“Our desire to be together, our desire to party together, can sometimes be our greatest weakness in a time of pandemic. Those connections that we count on, our need to come together, are the things that COVID-19 seeks to spread,” said Dix, adding the COVID-19 tide was rising. “You see that all around the world, where we are in a significant new phase of the pandemic. And we must now act to respond to what COVID-19 is doing in our province, to get our own house in order for the cold weather ahead.

“We’re facing COVID-19 for a long time to come. For months and months and months and months and months and months and months to come. We’re going to be dealing with COVID-19 and for us to do all the things that we want, to have children in school, to have surgeries performed, to have businesses operating, to have some normalcy in these extraordinary times in our lives, we need to follow public health guidance and public health advice.”

Gustafson said there were now 2,945 active cases of COVID-19 in B.C., of which 90 were in hospital, including 19 in intensive care. She said that while those numbers were very concerning, hospitalizations were stable.

Of the new cases, the majority (830) were in the Fraser Health region, with 234 reported in the Vancouver Coastal Health region.

There have been 15,501 cases of COVID-19 reported since the first case appeared in B.C. in late January and 269 deaths.

Gustafson said there were 6,448 people in self-isolation after potentially being exposed to the disease.

There are 28 active outbreaks in health-care facilities, including three reported over the weekend. Of these, 26 are in long-term care facilities and two in acute-care settings. So far, 457 health-care workers at long-term care facilities have contracted the virus. All six people who died over the weekend were in long-term care.

Late on Monday, Fraser Health reported a community outbreak at Capella Dance Academy in Chilliwack where 26 people have tested COVID positive. The facility closed on Oct. 28 and is subject to inspection.

Dix said there were 24,771 COVID-19 tests performed over the weekend and over 5,000 calls were made to the 811 COVID-19 helpline — and the Ministry of Health was hiring more COVID-19 contact tracers.

Gustafson said more detailed information on where COVID-19 cases had appeared would be available soon.

She said her office was still resisting adopting the federal government’s COVID Alert smartphone app but the office was looking for online tools that would be more helpful. She said the app couldn’t provide meaningful information — like when the exposure occurred and for how long — and needed to be improved.

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