B.C. has recorded 28 new COVID-19 cases as health officials work to curb a number of new exposures, including a new outbreak at the neonatal intensive care unit at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver.
In an unscheduled news conference on Friday (July 17), provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said that a baby in the NICU ward has tested positive for the novel coronavirus but isn’t showing any symptoms at this time.
St. Paul’s NICU provides 24-hour care for premature babies and other newborns with health problems that require specialized attention. Restrictions have been put in place limiting visitors and the area is being thoroughly cleaned.
“Contact tracing is ongoing to determine how the virus was introduced into people in the NICU and Vancouver Coastal Health is investigating with St. Paul’s,” Henry said, adding that some families have been contacted and are self-isolating.
Henry said that other exposures include at the Site C Dam work site where one worker from Alberta has tested positive, as well as four confirmed cases connected to a cherry farm in Oliver.
Cases linked to the ongoing exposure at a number of downtown Kelowna establishments have also increased to 35.
“We anticipate there will be more cases in the coming days as people who were exposed are now starting to develop symptoms,” Henry said, adding that she has been in discussion with Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran to come up with a plan to curb further spread but stopped short of detailing specifics.
As of Friday, B.C. has 207 active confirmed cases with eighteen in hospital. Two people are in intensive care. Henry announced no new deaths, keeping the total at 189.
“As you know with this virus, once you have been exposed there is nothing we can do to prevent you from developing disease we just need to wait it out and ensure that if you do get sick that you are not passing it on to others and that’s how break these chains of transmission,” Henry said.
For the top doctor, the flare ups and surge in cases in the past five days is a concern.
“It’s not necessarily unexpected but it is a warning to us that we need to do more to keep things in balance,” she said.
“This is one of the reasons I felt the need to speak today. Many of these new cases are people in their 20s and 30s and transmission is directly connected to those very important social events.”
Symptoms related to COVID-19 are less severe in younger people compared to the elderly, which means some may not know they are ill or contagious.
“But they can still spread the virus to others and your ability to spread that virus is just as high or higher as older people,” Henry said, calling on younger generations to use their influence on social media to encourage safe social practises.
“Don’t let COVID steal your summer.”
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